Few film genres are sliced and diced as often as horror. The tropes, the fan culture, the winking acceptance that characters on screen understand the formula as well as the audience (but are still powerless to stop the carnage) — it’s all frequent grist for the movie mill. Writer-director Owen Egerton’s low budget “Blood Fest” continues that tradition with such clear affection for the genre that it almost skates by on enthusiasm alone.
Horror-loving teen Dax (Robbie Kay) is pumped for the upcoming fan extravaganza Blood Fest, an epic Halloween gathering that promises to place attendees in the middle of a half dozen cinematic scenarios inside a vast wooded area. That’s despite the stern opposition of his father (Tate Donovan), a psychiatrist who blames horror for the brutal murder of Dax’s mother years ago.
With video store colleague Sam (Seychelle Gabriel) and hacker pal Krill (Jacob Batalon) by his side, Dax sneaks off to Blood Fest — only to see his dream experience turn into a nightmare when the crowds become victims of a grotesque killing spree.
The ensuing abundant gore is simultaneously gleeful and nonsensical as the filmmakers rope in so many monsters — from seductive vampires to routine zombies to killer clowns — the entire movie becomes literal overkill. What it isn’t — especially in comparison to horror-comedy touchstones including “Scream,” “Zombieland” or “Shaun of the Dead” — is particularly scary or funny.
The generally likable performers do what they can with thinly drawn characters whose traits are limited to “virgin” and “ditz,” but it’s hard to care much about what happens to them even as generic archetypes.
By the time the film reaches its thoroughly unsurprising third-act twist revealing who is actually behind the bloodbath, the tropes have begun to feel more tired than a decades-old copy of Fangoria magazine.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; also video on demand