Mickey Keating’s latest addition to the genre (his previous work includes Pod and Darling) with Carnage Park was an interesting one, to say the least. I’m writing this review still unsure exactly how I feel about the movie. The story follows bank robber, Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hebert), on the run from the law with his partner after a botched bank heist. We soon find out they have hostage, Vivian (Ashley Bell), in tow as they make their way into the California desert. What they don’t know, however, is that they stumbled into an area that’s owned by a psychotic man, Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy) with a sniper rifle and a hatred for anyone who finds themselves on his property.
From the moment it began, the opening scene was an all-too-familiar one, mimicking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then almost immediately jumping into another scene that I was most positive I have seen before as well- the iconic, frenzied getaway scene in the car from Reservoir Dogs. These aren’t the only films Keating seemed to borrow from throughout (My Bloody Valentine, The Hills Have Eyes, House of 1,000 Corpses), and it’s all very blatantly obvious. To be honest, I couldn’t shake off the heavy Tarantino vibe he was trying to give the whole time- the sudden freeze frames, the witty intros to characters, the ever-shuffling playlist with the eclectic music…it was all there. All wrapped up in the era of the 70’s.
While I would have liked to see a lot more of the robber characters, Ashley Bell as the terrified hostage who fell into some seriously bad luck all-around was a good enough hero character (I still prefer her in The Last Exorcism, though) to keep us rooting for the good guy…er, gal. BUT the star player in this one would have to be Pat Healy’s wacko, murderous character, who is downright creepy and merciless throughout (especially with his thick, Southern accent); you wouldn’t want to run into him alone, that’s for sure.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not poo-poo’ing the whole thing, it was an entertaining watch but couldn’t seem to cross the almost bland threshold it had. For the style the movie seemed to portray (in the vein of those early 70’s crime caper/thrillers), I was hoping the payoff would be more climactic- unfortunately, it wasn’t. I know many will find something to enjoy about the movie, and I did as well, but Carnage Park probably won’t be finding itself on my favorites list this year.
CARNAGE PARK is directed by Mickey Keating and stars Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, James Landry Hébert, Darby Stanchfield and Alan Ruck.