Every time I sit down to watch a new slasher film, I’m always hoping for that curveball angle, that slightly different spin on the norm that hooks my interest and keeps me from feeling that old “I’ve seen this before” melancholy. It doesn’t even have to be much; a slightly different take on the origin of the ax murderer/scalp collector/lost insane sibling can be a saving grace. So can shaking up the order of things; have the Virtuous Smart Girl get whacked in the first fifteen minutes; let the red herring really be the killer, etc. For a modern slasher to appeal to us Fellow Fans, what you really need is a slightly new twist, something that catches us off-guard, and (without question) a solid script. This is especially true when you’re talking low-budget, crowd-funded indie films. For the most part, I’m willing to overlook nominal acting and/or low-quality effects if the story grabs me and the plot holds my interest.
Sadly, Scream Park didn’t do either of the latter for me.
Fright Land amusement park has obviously fallen on hard times; we see the sparse crowds, the shut-down rides, the unkempt concessions. We’re introduced to several of the teenaged (??) employees and the park manager, going about the usual operations, greatly truncated, of course. Tonight, it’s decided that they’ll have a party; a goodbye bash for the park’s closing…if only Missi, the Virtuous Smart Girl (c’mon, you know her) could find her boyfriend, Blake….
…one of the girls, Carlee, the Prissy One (you know her, too) has her punk rocker (of course ) boyfriend pick up some booze, they convince the wimpy boss to lock the gates, and the party’s on. The Badass (in this case the security guard), the Nerdy Nice Guy…even the Jock and the Slutty Cool Girl are here, and one way or another, this night is going to stay with them for the rest of their lives…because, you see, what they don’t know is that there are a couple of other, uninvited guests in Fright Land tonight, and they’re not here for the cheap beer or blasting music…
The story moves haphazardly, and hits the ‘familiar’ button often. The lighting is pretty crude, and the editing has some real issues (I had two different times where the screen just faded to black for a good ten to fifteen seconds; let me say, however, that the copy I was watching was a screener, and such defects were likely cleaned up in post). There was so much missed opportunity; the setting of an abandoned amusement park is ripe for tense chases, wide shots, and above all, creative kills; none of this was really capitalized upon. The acting ranged from abysmally forced to below-average-but-showing-potential. The lead, Nicole Beattie, shows promise, and a couple of the other actors, with some experience, could be folks to watch in the future. The effects…ah, well…the effects were there, but they were by and large poorly-executed, quick cuts obviously hiding the lackluster gore. Gorehounds will likely see just enough to piss them off; in my opinion, there was really only one good kill, and in the scheme of things, it was pretty weak.
I really, really wanted to like this film; the advances I read sounded good, and I thought the idea of using a whole amusement park for a slasher film hasn’t been properly capitalized upon (although not for lack of trying). Even the presence of Pinhead himself didn’t really help me any; Doug Bradley’s appearance was fun (the Lament Configuration sitting on his desk brought a chuckle), but it was lipstick on a pig. I know, I know…that’s harsh, but I gotta be honest; the movie just didn’t give me anything to latch onto. The story was spotty as all hell, and I simply wasn’t led to give a rat’s ass about any of the characters. I believe the writer/director Cary Hill has some talent (the idea itself is a damned good one); I have high hopes that this will be a learning experience, and that we’ll see more from him in the future. This time around…well, it’s a bitch, but I believe he’ll have to chalk this one up.
As always, this is just one humble Mouse’s opinion; but if you read this at all, you read it to see what I think…
…and as much as I hate it folks, I think this one is a pass.