Review by Lauryn Angel
Carnage Park is writer-director Mickey Park’s attempt to create a horror movie in the style of a 1970s grindhouse film, calling to mind Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s original The Hills Have Eyes. Unfortunately, Carnage Park is mostly an exercise in style, saddled with a plodding plot.
When the film begins, we are told that what we are about to see is based on “one of the most bizarre episodes in the annals of American Crime.” We’re dropped into the middle of the action, as Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hébert) and his partner Lenny (Michael Villar) have just robbed a bank, and are making a get-away. Unfortunately, Lenny doesn’t fare well, so Scorpion Joe pulls a hostage – a customer of the bank, named Vivian (Ashley Bell) – from the trunk to help him dispose of the body. From there, we’re given a flashback to the Vivian’s visit to the bank in an effort to save her father’s farm from foreclosure. The flashback doesn’t really add anything to the plot; it’s pure exposition to help the audience connect with Vivian, who is our true protagonist. When Scorpion Joe’s escape route crosses into the property of Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy). Wyatt is a Vietnam veteran who has turned his property into a torture ground (the “Carnage Park” of the title), to which he brings those unfortunate souls who manage to lose their way or whose cars break down. Wyatt happens to be the brother of the sheriff (Alan Ruck), who makes some blustery threats, but mostly turns a blind eye to Wyatt’s activities. Once Vivian finds herself in Carnage Park, any pretense of plot is abandoned. Vivian moves from one scene of horror to the next, all in an attempt to escape.
Stylistically, the film gets everything right. The cinematography is stark, highlighting Vivian’s desperation; the music creates suspense and ratchets up the tension. Unfortunately, the film is more than a little predictable, so while it’s an interesting study in style, Carnage Park will not likely make a mark on the horror genre.