Carnage Park, 2016
directed by Mickey Keating
starring Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck
Taking place in 1978, and presented in the style of grindhouse flicks of the same time, Carnage Park is a fairly thrilling, quick-ride that features a fair share of blood and tension. Two men rob a small town bank, take a girl hostage, but end up lost in the nearby sprawling desert. Unbeknownst to them, the owner and inhabitant of the land has his own version of The Most Dangerous Game set up. It’s a simple enough plot designed to get right to the action. There are flashbacks early on that connect characters or fill in some of the plot, which gives the film a little bit of a modern style, but overall the film is designed to look like something you would have seen decades ago. The music is great, and the characters seem like they are ripped right out of a pulp novel. The movie also looks great, with washed out desert tones making the movie almost look like it is in sepia tone at times, making the splashes of color and darkness stand out.
Although the film is successful at creating the style it was looking for, and the acting is solid, the rest is kind of a mixed bag. There are several scenes that are fantastically tense and stand out, particularly, the opening scene of the movie. It’s a great setup, but even though the movie clocks in at just 80 minutes, there were times the movie just sort of dragged. (Note: IMDb shows the film at 90 minutes, but the Netflix version is 80. Perhaps there is an extended/directors cut out there.) There were enough moments, though, like Alan Ruck and Larry Fessenden showing up, that kept me interested. However, the ending left me really disappointed and looking at the clock. It is, and this seems like an odd complaint, too damn dark. Darkness is one thing, but there is a lot of looking at a black screen near the end. In this dark (literally and figuratively I suppose) ending, it was disappointing, and may have weakened my positive feelings of the rest of the movie.
If you’re a fan of thrillers, but want a touch of horror themes as well, I wouldn’t passionately recommend Carnage Park, but at the same time wouldn’t tell you to avoid it. The first third is great, the final ten disappoints, and the middle portion shines and stumbles at the same time. For me personally, the style of the movie ultimately matches the quality. It’s certainly enjoyable, and even though the main villain is great, the characterization is shallow. In the end, Carnage Park something that feels like you would watch at a drive-in or during a marathon, and then mostly forgot about.