The annual Haunted Hayride is being setup for Halloween in a small town in Alabama. This Halloween a college student is returning to his home town with his girlfriend. He has already prepared her for the local legend of Pitchfork - the person the Haunted Hayride is based upon.
There is a reason I don't watch many slasher movies, and movies like "Hayride" are exactly the reason. It's not that I expect something new or mindblowing, but sometimes I just wish more creativity was present. And maybe more care. I can't for the life of me imagine anything that would be more boring in the world of film than to sit down and write a slasher script. What would be the point, even? Evidently there are people who just love it, and that love making them, and "Hayride" is just feeding it with the same snooze.
Besides being based on the redneck version of Haunted Houses, "Hayride" is dressed in the same cloth as any other "masked-killer-returns" horrors from late 70's an onwards. The movie is set on Halloween, and a guy is returning home just in time for the Haunted Hayride. He is bringing his girlfriend, but has made sure she understands where she's going, telling her about his uncle, as well as his uncle's favorite story to tell: the legend of Pitchfork. Pitchfork is said to be out there looking for his daughter who ran away, but is the legend really true? Pitchfork is the main focus on the Haunted Hayride. The only problem is that the Pitchfork mask is gone, and little do they don't know that someone else is taking upon the role of Pitchfork. Or is it the real Pitchfork?
How did I do? Did I scare you enough? Did I build up lots of tension? Did you start to question whether the legend is real or not? The movie sure didn't do any of that. Now, it's not as bad as some backyard flicks in its production, but at least those you can accept for the fact that they are made with little care to begin with. "Hayride" is low budget, sure, but it has the bland characters, unimaginative antagonist and yawn-inducing violence that has nothing to do with production values. There are some issues in the production values themselves, but that's nothing new. You're quite prepared for stale performances, day-for-night shots, pointlessly added CGI rain and blood squirts, and so on. It's not really an issue for the movie. Of course, it doesn't help it either.
The movie does try to give us a justified back story, and to its credit it's not terrible. But they tell it in a really cheesy way, with an overly stylized frame around the flashback, and it's really pushing it in length. The story itself, that Pitchfork is out there looking for his daughter that ran away, and killing everyone in the way, isn't too shabby at all. It might not break new ground, but it's at least on par with some much superior movies' back stories. And that's quite a compliment, I think.
The kills in the movie are often nothing attention-worthy. I did enjoy one kill somewhat: when someone wearing a cheap Jason Voorhees mask is hit in the face with an axe, and the mask sticks to the axe. Even that's stretching it. But I guess it's a simple thing to do, but was creative enough to stand out in an otherwise lackluster slasher. The amount of gore and blood isn't great, but it's enough for me to not be overly annoyed about it, and just little enough so that I don't take much notice.
"Hayride" might appeal to some huge slasher fans. We're talking about those who also love the hell out of the post-"Scream" phase that ended sometime in the early 00's. "Hayride" isn't much more than that, and probably worse than many of them. It's more in style with "Friday the 13th" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (if you only count the chase scenes towards the end) than "Scream", but you get the point. It's a slasher flick in 2013 (2012), and it does absolutely nothing to break the mold.