April 22, 2014 (DVD)
Nicole Beattie as Missi
Doug Bradley as Mr. Hyde
Kailey Marie Harris as Carlee
Dean Jacobs as Tony
Scream Park isn’t. It isn’t even close to a frightening piece of work, and it never for once even feels like a carny pic. Hell, Big feels more carny than this heap.
My father once told me a story about his military days. I’ll now relay that for you, truncated. He told me that the men were allotted a very short number of minutes (this could have been six, could have been eight; I can’t quite recall that detail) to eat their lunch during boot camp. Their lunch, to the surprise of no one, was a heaping portion of disgusting mush (at least back in the late 60s, when troops were being prepped for an often one-way trip to Vietnam) that was either eaten, or not. It was the same shit, every day. My father (he’s always been a ballsy one) one day got smart with a superior in regards to the quality of the food. “I told him I didn’t want to eat that mush,” he told me. And his superior offered a sound piece of advice that still sticks with me today, despite not filling out my father’s shoes in regards to military service, I can completely relate: “Don’t matter where you go, or what you do boy, it’s mush everywhere. You’re gonna eat it, and if you think you’re not, well you ain’t gonna eat again.”
I shit you not, I’ll never forget it. That’s the quote my father delivered, verbatim.
I kind of liken this movie to that statement in general.
Scream Park is mush, and mush is never going anywhere. Being a diehard genre junkie, I’m also resigning myself to the fact that no matter what, with the immense amount of hours I invest in horror, I’ll never escape those appearances from the dreaded… mush. It’s not going anywhere, dammit! Whoever that man was who likely gave my old man a proper ass rippin’, he was 110-percent correct.
That’s what I call wisdom.
See, Scream Park is supposed to be another carny slasher. And you know what, as unoriginal and uninspired as these kinds of flicks can be, they typically touch a tender part of my soul. I love those absurd amusement park shocks, and that love has stretched all the way back to 1985 whenThe Goonies was released. The Goonies was neither a carny film, nor a horror film, but itreminded me of carny film (probably thanks to Mouth), and it had a few moments that really sent chills down my young, still-growing spine. My love for these films hasn’t vacillated since. FromFunhouse to Clownhouse, Something Wicked This Way Comes to Dark Ride, these movies just work for me. To be blunt as all hell, they’re fuckin’ creepy!
Well, most are. Scream Park isn’t. It isn’t even close to a frightening piece of work, and it never for once even feels like a carny pic. Hell, Big feels more carny than this heap. Scream Park is just a bland flick with bland set pieces (what is that… a recreational area with a few outhouses?) and a story that promises to lead absolutely nowhere. As viewers we never give a damn about any of the characters. They’re all cardboard cutouts, imitations of other characters from other films that were far more engaging. Even the conflict itself feels generic. The villains aren’t frightening, the death sequences aren’t particularly stimulating. Any thought of mystery can be dispelled instantly.
Scream Park is one of the roughest micro flicks I’ve seen in some time. But here comes the really, really twisted part about the whole thing. I think the crew put in a lot of effort. I believe they genuinely tried. I don’t think they wanted to make a terrible movie. I think they wanted to make an independent treasure. The fact that they missed that goal by such as a staggering margin is utterly unfathomable. How do you invest everything you’ve got and still fail on all levels? That’s got to be some astoundingly discouraging business.
Before I cruise off into the sunset here, I do have to speak on one single quality of the film that left me quite pleased. It’s also the reason this one isn’t being branded a half skull rating. Scream Parktotally and completely looks like a throwback 70s film. It looks like it was shot in 35mm with a little frantic editing worked into the equation. It’s charming, and I love vintage aesthetics. Scream Parkgot that right. It has the look of a pic shot in 1975, and for that, I nod my head and bump the rating up just a tad.