Carnage Park – Review (***)

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carnage park

Mickey Keating’s (Pod, Darling) latest effort proudly wears its exploitation roots on its sleeves while mixing in a slice of Tarantino for good measure, though it’s fair to say that Carnage Park is strictly only for Grindhouse enthusiasts.

In 1978, a young woman by the name of Vivian Fontaine (Ashley Bell) finds herself kidnapped in a deserted expanse of land that would eventually and infamously become known as Carnage Park. On the run from a sadistic killer armed with a sniper rifle (Pat Healy), Vivian must attempt to find refuge from the madman before it’s too late.

Forgiving this film’s many flaws, it does admirably capture the grimy, washed-out essence of 70s exploitation fare, utilising convincingly dogeared cinematography and discordant editing to generate an experience that feels both rough-hewn and psychologically discomforting. That said, it’s certainly not without a few sparse moments of welcome gallows humour, too.

Keating does a fine job keeping things solidly tense for the most part, which is a large credit to the terrific Bell, who has played memorable beleaguered femmes in a number of horrors and thrillers over the years (The Last Exorcism, The Day), and delivers a convincingly terrified portrait of an ultimately strong, steely, resourceful protagonist. That she hasn’t found more mainstream success is, frankly, baffling.

Still, just because it’s well-wrought and well-acted doesn’t mean it’s a classy affair in the slightest: true to its origins, the pic doesn’t skimp on the gnarly blood and guts, and should satisfy gorehounds accordingly.

Pat Healy may not get much to do by comparison to Bell, but he’s still suitably menacing all the same, while brief appearances from Alan Ruck (seriously) and horror legend Larry Fassenden add a small spice of flavour.

Sure, there’s a fairly laughable through-line conceit that Vivian’s pursuers are perennially terrible shots as the plot essentially necessitates and a less-than-assured, arguably ennui-inducing third-act, but at 81 minutes long, it’s a minimalist, to-the-point, nasty little thriller that should please exactly those who it’s aimed at.

***

Carnage Park is available now on VOD

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