Scream Park (2012) **
D: Cary Hill
C: Wendy Wygant, Steve Rudzinski, Nivek Ogre, Doug Bradley, Alicia Marie Marcucci, Nicole Beattie, Dean Jacobs
Plot Synopsis: A failed amusement park owner devises a plan to commit gruesome murders in the park as a publicity stunt to sell tickets.
Review: In the opening scenes of Scream Park, we watch the inner workings of an amusement park as it gets ready to close its doors for good. You see, the park hasn't made a profit in quite some time and no wonder. The rides look run down. Everything is outdated. The food looks greasy. Most of the employees don't give a damn. They're there just to collect a paycheck. One employee even smokes a cigarette while halfheartedly informing patrons to "remain seated until the ride has come to complete stop". Scream Park's depiction of an amusement park that has seen better days is spot on, but this isn't a drama about an amusement park that has seen better days, this is a horror film.
In the background of various scenes, we witness two masked figures break into the park completely oblivious to the staff. The staff wants to drink and have a good time and nothing more. Some tension is generated as we watch these masked figures lurk in the background, hiding in the shadows. Eventually, these masked figures start dispatching of the cast one by one and that's when the suspense starts to dissipate.
For instance, in one scene, a character awakens to find himself locked into a ride with his hands taped down. This would have been a prime opportunity for the film to generate some heart stopping suspense as the killer plays cat and mouse with his intended victim. Instead, the killer simply rips open his victim and throws his guts all over the place.
In another scene, one of the killer's unmasks himself. The person behind the mask, played by Nivek Ogre, does a wonderful job of creating this grind-house type serial killer persona from the horror films of yesteryear. However, that strength ends up becoming a weakness.
The opening scenes of Scream Park establishes the killers as faceless villains with few defining traits. This allows viewers to project their own fears onto the villains, but by having one of the killer's take off their mask and interacting with their victims to be, the film becomes something much more literal and straight forward ....and ordinary.
Later into the film, there is a cameo appearance by Doug Bradley. Bradley's character is the owner of the amusement park. He's come up with the bright idea that if an accident or even a series of murders were to occur at the park, this would help generate more business. From there, we get the idea. Bradley's character has hired some thugs to kill off the park's employees.
Bradley's cameo is amusing and it shows how strong of an actor he is, because in five brief minutes, he really makes impression. However, this cameo appearance is what ultimately causes Scream Park to become unhinged. At the end, when everything is said and done, when one of the characters is sitting in an ambulance, one of the paramedics says something to the degree of that because of these killings, the park is now going to do a lot more business.
Now imagine this. Imagine a film in which we didn't know the killer's motives. Imagine a film without Bradley's character explaining his macabre plans. This final punch line (with the paramedic talking about the park) is the type of punch line that would have had audiences re-examining the film in a whole new light, trying to connect everything that had happened in the film. By over explaining everything, the film ultimately loses its effectiveness and becomes another routine slasher. When it comes to making a horror film, it isn't necessarily what you see, it's what you don't. [Not Rated] 85 mins.
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