If you have a vivid imagination like I do, you see potential story in almost everywhere you go. Cary Hill knows the feeling as he had that moment a few years ago at a theme park. Unlike most of us, Hill decided to do something about it and with the help of Kickstarter, we get the 2013 release of Scream Park, an 80s style slasher film set in an amusement park.
Theme parks and horror have a long and illustrious history together from the early freak shows all the way to zombies devouring Woody Harrelson in a midway game booth. There’s some inherently creepy about amusement parks. Perhaps its the dead stare of the critters and creatures the parks are made of. Perhaps its the inherit danger that lies with putting your life in the hands of strangers every time you step onto a theme park ride. Like clowns, there is seedy underbelly of theme parks that we just don’t quite trust — and that’s part of the thrill of it all.
Hill does his best to capture this mistrust giving us plenty of shots of empty park rides and deserted midways as Fright Land is in its death throws on its last night of existence. Accordingly, the teenage staff of the theme park has mixed emotions about the park going out of existence — except for Blake.
Hill is going for “80s type slasher” in a theme park. When I think of 80s slashers, I think of two things; boobs and cool kills. The film is all of two seconds away from being completely devoid of the former, but scores some points with the latter. I’m a sucker for death by head being shoved into a working fryer.
Ultimately, the film is too idealistic. Yes, and 80s type slasher in a theme park is a very interesting premise. However, as a B-movie, one has to know their limitations. I don’t expect the acting to be great (it wasn’t), but I do expect to be able to hear the bad acting. This movie was made recently. In the 2010s, recording equipment is not that expensive. That being said, knowing the financial limitations, perhaps recording in a vast theme park wasn’t the best option. Even with headphones on, I could barely hear the action.
The storyline is fairly simple — teenage kids getting laid to waste in a theme park after hours. I do appreciate the use of theme park tropes early on in the film; a death on rollercoaster and death in snackbar fryer. As things break down, the death get less carnival oriented. I appreciate the initial effort and I am positive that Hill and crew were handcuffed with what they could do since they were filming in an actual theme park (Conneaut Lake Park in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania for those of you in the area who may have recognized the place). The motive for the killings doesn’t make a lot of sense, but to avoid spoilers, I won’t get much into that.
It should be noted there is a cameo appearance by the great Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead for you Hellraiser fans) as the theme park owner. This is where the storyline started to go south. Mostly, Bradley’s appearance served to show how weak the rest of the acting was when compared to him. However, I don’t blame Hill for adding Bradley into the film. If I’m making independent horror and I can use Doug Bradley, I’m using Doug Bradley, damnit!
In conclusion, Scream Park is the epitome of B-movie independent horror (not to be confused with B-movie studio horror, which would not be excused for poor production values). The sound was an issue, but the lighting and gore was not. The best acting in the film is brought to you by Kyle Riordan and Alicia Marcucci as Roy and Allison, respectively, but otherwise, it’s what you expect.
On the dumbed down B-movie horror scare, Scream Park rates a solid 6/10 mostly for the kills.
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