Carnage Park Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Mickey Keating
2016, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on November 1st, 2016
Ashley Bell as Vivian
Pat Healy as Wyatt
James Landry Hébert as “Scorpion” Joe Clay
Alan Ruck as Sheriff Moss
Michael Villar as Lenny
Bob Bancroft as Delbert
Larry Fessenden as Travis “Whiskey” Ginger
Vivian is having a very bad day that started with her trip to the bank to apply for a loan to keep the family farm. There she met ‘Scorpion’ Joe Clay and his accomplice Lenny, two bandits who force her at gunpoint to join them for a ride in the back of their car. She is released from the confines of the trunk, but things continue to spiral out of control as the trio cross paths with a deadly sniper hiding somewhere in the desert landscape. Vivian manages to escape one terrible scenario only to get pulled into an even worse situation, with the hidden gunman always one step ahead of her. Can Sheriff Moss get to her in time and even if he does, can he stop the sniper? Everyone who crosses her path has a secret and Vivian must rely on herself if she is to survive this nightmare.
Set in the late 1970s, Carnage Park delivers a stark grindhouse cinema vibe echoing such classic works as The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Writer/ director Mickey Keating (Darling) delivers a genre-bending, high-concept tale that keeps audiences guessing throughout the brisk 80-minute running time. Keating shows much promise with his storytelling abilities as he introduces intriguing new elements to the plot with ease, but still has room to grow as a director. Stylistically, he is all over the map as he pulls influence from contemporary filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino. The failed heist opener is extremely reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs and the inclusion of story points presented in nonlinear fashion to shake up the audience are also familiar, but Keating lacks the skills to sell this as homage. Fortunately, he steps out of Tarantino’s shadow fairly quickly and things improve once he explores the possibilities of the world he has created. Things get a bit clunky in the final act, but remain entertaining enough to not completely fall apart. Carnage Park may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one.
Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism) is perfectly cast in the role of Vivian, the strong and resourceful protagonist determined to survive this horrific ordeal. She takes Keating’s character and brings it to life in a manner that is vital for viewers rooting for her success. Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills) is also impressive as the unpredictable Wyatt Moss, a fitting adversary to Vivian, as he believes himself completely justified in his actions. Alan Ruck (Young Guns II) lends an endearing quality to the conflicted and weary Sheriff Moss, a man who knows he must do something he dreads in order to keep the community safe. Less effective is James Landry Hébert (Super 8) as “Scorpion” Joe Clay, an over-the-top cartoon villain that is all bark and bluster, but the blame lands more with the script than the actor. I always get a kick out of seeing Larry Fessenden (We Are Still Here) pop up in films like this, as his characters are always entertaining and memorable, this time as an unfortunate man named “Whiskey”.
Keating is an interesting filmmaker to watch and I look forward to his next effort, but am more excited by the thought of his next script.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Carnage Park looks beautiful and features a very strong transfer. The desert imagery is absolutely gorgeous with plenty of small-object detail, particularly in the close-ups of people’s weathered faces. Cinematographer Mac Fisken (Ritual) captures the enormous beauty of the desert environment with some impressive compositions and his work shines as the real star of the picture. Colors and black levels are equally impressive and flesh tones appear natural throughout.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio is effective in putting all speakers to use without giving too much of a workout. The gunshots of the elusive sniper are quite unsettling, as they come from seemingly random directions and place viewers in the deadly environment.
Optional English or Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.
The only special feature on this disc is the original theatrical trailer.