Hell Night

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1981

Directed by Tom DeSimone; Written by Randy Feldman

Four fraternity/sorority pledges spend the night in a haunted mansion to fulfil their initiation requirements. The upperclassmen have planned a night of gags and trickery on the unknowing freshmen. As the evening of pranks begins, the mysteries surrounding the history of the mansion are somewhat revealed.

Hell Night combines early slasher themes with haunted house elements. This is garnished with a creeping slow pace that will likely put the audience to sleep. To compound this, the film is weak on both story and character development, elaborating little on what is going on once the slashing begins. Hell Night’s dilemma can be thought of as a drawn out, underdeveloped story consisting of characters the audience knows and subsequently cares little about.

Despite these weaknesses, Hell Night is not as predictable as one might assume. Though the main characters are rather stereotypical, they venture down avenues not explored fully in the traditional horror film structure. While the acting is also rather weak, the main characters have an odd appeal to them.

In the end, this film is overcome by the vast amount of filler scenes and lack of any explanation of the backstory. In the last twenty minutes, a new character appears on the scene and complicates matters for no adequately explored reason; I doubt anyone but perhaps the filmmakers know who this character is! It’s rare and unfortunate that a horror film inspires sleepiness and boredom.

Rating: 3/10

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