Nowadays, it seems as if the trend in slasher flicks is not to push the envelope of creativity, but to take us back to their origins, back to the early years when they truly started to flourish. Many of the press releases for slasher films that I receive tout these films as ‘throwbacks’ or ‘homages to the glory days’, which usually means they are low-budget and low-quality. This is all fine and good, and don’t get me wrong: I enjoy many of these films as much as any horror fan. But I’m starting to crave originality. SCREAM PARK is one of these films that attempts to capture the spark of vintage slashers. And while it is entertaining in a few aspects, the film as a whole doesn’t meet up to my expectations.
If you are not familiar with SCREAM PARK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing:
The Fright Land amusement park is on the verge of closing its doors forever. But the park’s owner, Hyde (Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley), has one last plan to sell more tickets… murder. Hiring two backwoods maniacs to break into the park and hack and slash all his employees, Hyde thinks these killings will create a media sensation, but he has just unleashed a horror that no one can survive. Also featuring Skinny Puppy frontman Nivek Ogre.
Horror flicks that are set in amusement parks or carnivals are a special treat for me; I love the concept of terrifying and/or horrific events happening at places that are supposedly renowned for good times and fun. I guess the contrast itself is what draws me. There’s a lot that can happen in one of these places, not to mention a lot of different ways to kill off characters!
Unfortunately, SCREAM PARK doesn’t offer very many interesting ways for its cast to die. Sure, there’s a body count…but I wanted to see people run over by bumper cars or slung from the Tilt-a-whirl into piano wire. The killers could have sprinkled the funnel cakes with Comet or even used someone’s head as a test-your-strength platform. The options in an amusement park are endless; sadly, the production team for this film didn’t look into them.
I do like the killers in SCREAM PARK, though; they are ambiguous and sinister, just like the bad guys in a slasher flick should be. Not only that, but they wear freaky masks, too. This heightens the sense of suspense for the audience, as it makes the killer appear less human and therefore more terrifying.
I wish I could say some positive things about the cast in SCREAM PARK, but I simply cannot. This film has some of the worst acting in a low-budget feature that I’ve ever seen. Some bad acting is forgivable; this is not. The only actor worthy of being called such is Doug Bradley, who fright fans will know as Pinhead from the HELLRAISER series. Much to my chagrin, Bradley is only onscreen for about five minutes in the whole film, which makes me want to scream “False advertising!” to the person that designed the DVD cover (his name is at the top of the cover, making it seem like he’s the star).
Still, with all of the negatives aside, SCREAM PARK managed to be slightly entertaining. I stopped looking at it from an originality standpoint and started looking at it as a simple, B-grade slasher film; doing so helped me actually enjoy a bit of it, especially once the killers start stalking everyone. Oh, and there is a pretty nice twist at the very end that made me smile.
All in all, I will say SCREAM PARK is a watch-at-your-own-risk horror film. Some of you will like it, but many of you will hate it. I say check it out and make your own decision. The film is available now.