Movie Review – Scream Park

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Movie Review – Scream Park
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Horror
ProtoMedia, Wild Eye Releasing
January 6th, 2013
Release length: 1:25:00
Website
Scream Park was initially shot back in 2012, but it wasn’t until early January of 2013 that it started making its rounds. The film was put together on an estimated forty thousand dollar budget and filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as Conneaut Lake Park. What once was kind of an obscure modern Horror flick has become readily available thanks to distribution from the quickly growing Wild Eye Releasing at a decent a price. But does this love letter to the eighties slasher end up an enthralling experience, or is it nothing but poorly executed rehashings of everything we’ve seen many times over?

The story behind Scream Park is pretty standard. A group of teenagers are employed at the local horror-themed fun park that they learn later that night is being shut down due to lack of profits and customers. Some of the ladies coax their boss Marty (Steve Rudzinski) into letting them have a party on the grounds as a sort of farewell bash. While everyone is already paired up with drinking buddies, Jennifer (Wendy Wygant) hopes to spend the night getting closer to another employee named Blake. The problem is that nobody can seem to find him. Instead some happen upon two people inside the park that are not supposed to be there. No one knows who they are, but one thing is for certain: The body count is rising, and someone changed the locked so there is no way out.

If this seems like a standard Slasher scenario, you’re absolutely right. One thing Scream Park does well is present more of an eighties analog feel to the visuals that give it more of a remastered VHS quality. It also uses plenty of easy tactics when it comes to effects and death scenes. For the most part the film relies on practical effects and quick cuts to set up the props with the according scene. The downfall here is that those props are not worked in too well with some of the scenes like one of the employees approaching some customers early on with a fake severed hand, cutting to a staged clip of the arm against one of the walls to spray some blood for a brief second, and cutting back to the previous shot. If they had only been executed or put into the segment a little better the impact would have been a lot better than what exists.

This can also be said for some of the death scenes. There’s a small handful that happen off-screen or quick enough to appear that way including one character getting an axe to the skull, a head going into an active deep fryer that’s shot from behind, as well as a stabbing while hanging from a noose. When they are shown they can be kind of graphic if not a bit suggestive. One of the killers catches up with Allison (Alicia Marie Marcucci) and begins taunting her as she crawls toward the camera, only to pull her back. There are hints that she may end up raped but, other than slightly tearing her shirt, it doesn’t seem to happen. One of the male employees is also scalped, using it to taunt another by smearing the blood on his face and putting it on his head while claiming he killed the cowboy and has become him. Sadly, when it comes to slitting stomachs or throats, you can see the line where the blade is cutting. While the practicality is greatly appreciated, these simple oversights do remove some of the tension.

The other major gripe about the visuals are the random cuts to crisp digital production. This seems to happen randomly, but it’s towards the end with the final struggle atop one of the rides that you get a mix of the two. When focusing on the victim everything looks analog, but when both are in the scene against the grey sky everything suddenly looks shot in high definition. Even the background appears photoshopped to add some blur around them as they struggle. But then there’s the scene with the second killer Ogre (Ian Lemmon) who smashes through the glass door of one of the souvenir shop that looks like computer graphics meshed with bad green screen and terribly tinny sound effects that pushes a completely random three dimensional effect a la Friday the 13th Part III.

Scream Park

You can’t overlook the writing and poor character development either. While the tale behind Scream Park is pretty good and could easily have done very well in theaters during the Slasher, the script itself simply could have been tighter. There aren’t any major plot holes to really speak of, but there are times where characters seem to just vanish, only to reappear later as if Cary Hill remembered they still existed at that point of the first draft. There’s barely any development among any of them as well. Even the interactions between some characters with the people they are dating or just randomly screwing around with is incredibly bland and leaves no real time for them to play off of one another. Blake, the character that is missing most of the film, literally has more depth than anyone else walking and talking.

Marty is really the only other character who gets some depth, and all we end up with is that he’s a pervert who spied on some of the female employee’s in the bathroom, can be a bit of a controlling jerk, and had a meeting with park owner Mr. Hyde (Doug Bradley) about some kind of tragedy at the park to market in order to bring customers back. Everyone else are basically just random teens who work there and, well, that’s it. Even for Jennifer, the other main character o the film, but we at least know she has a thing for Blake. This is played up when he is finally found later on, leading to a scene played off in a dramatic manner, as if we’re supposed to care about this guy we never met and that Jennifer either never got to date him or, at the very least, had just started.

Scream Park

Thankfully the acting does help keep some of the characters mildly engaging. This includes Steve Rudzinski who looks and portrays himself like Jeffrey Combs in the role of Herbert West in the Re-Animator franchise, as well as Ogre for his silent Leatherface-esque traits. The rest of the cast is a mixed bag of good to mediocre, though Wendy Wygant is definitely on the top as far as believability goes.

The final thing worth mentioning about is it’s music and audio, which is both good and migraine inducing. The dialogue is normally caught loud enough over any background noise, and what music appears seems to be a mix of Metal and Punk groups normally coming through a car speaker or portable CD player. The score that appears matches the creepy vibe of the rundown amusement park at night (or dusk for the night for day shots), but towards the end of each piece you get this insanely high pitched noise that is so shrill it will have you cringing as you scramble for the mute button on the remote.

Scream Park

Scream Park is far from an original film on many different levels, but it definitely stands as a well executed love letter to the golden days of eighties Horror flicks. The acting is varied but mostly done well enough to get the point across for the characters despite their paper thin and interchangeable development, the production is wonderfully analog aside some random digital scenes, and the practical effects are greatly appreciated in a world of films reliant heavily or entirely on computer generated visuals for “maximum” impact. Scream Park is the kind of movie fans of eighties to early nineties Horror flicks will greatly appreciate, though won’t offer anything all the new or exciting. Right now you can pick it up for ten US dollars at some big chain stores, a price point that’s well worth laying out if you’re tired of the garbage that has been flooding the independent film world.

Overall Score: 6.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.