Cinephiles who missed Carnage Park when it came to town as part of last month’s 42nd Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) need not despair: director Mickey Keating‘s psychological, twisted horror picture will be available On Demand in all digital platforms, starting this Friday, July 1. (If you happen to be in New York City that weekend, you can catch the film on the same day in theaters at the IFC Center.)
The film stars Pat Healy as Wyatt Moss, a grade-A nutbar of the classic Old Country tradition. This gun-toting psychopath thinks the country has gone to Hell, and luring unlucky wanderers into his expansive, death-trapped filled playground in the desert is the only way to make it right again. Or something. It can be hard to unravel the motivations of someone with such a different voting record than my own, but that seems to be the general idea.
Moss meets his match in the form of a young woman named Vivian (Ashley Bell), who happens into “Carnage Park” after being taken hostage by a gang of bank robbers. This is a period picture from the dusty 1970s, as reflected in Vivian’s enviable flower-print dress and lack of cell phone in clinch moments.
Pat Healy has an impressive collection of indie performances under his belt, in films like Cheap Thrills, The Inkeepers and dozens more. If you don’t know who he is, that might say more about his versatility than his star power. As Wyatt Moss, Healy seems like a real person, and what could be scarier than that. Ashley Bell as Vivian may look frail at the start, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her, and she makes a fine protagonist to lead us through this violent, at times senseless plot.
Carnage Park begins with Healy delivering a chilly sermon over a bleak, expansive desert. The opening brings with it an energy and a dread that’s almost too good, because it raises expectations that the film can’t possibly fill. In both the style and use of a contemporary soundtrack, Keating evokes the movies of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Rob Zombie. It’s effective overall, but the references are too overt to blend in, and that’s a problem for Keating, if he ever wants to distinguish his work with a style that is entirely his own.
Even so, there’s a lot for fans of grindhouse-style thrillers to look for in this picture, and the brief 90-minute running time makes it a low-risk investment for your next “VOD and chill” evening.
Carnage Park is available On Demand in all digital platforms, this Friday, July 1.
When: Friday, July 1
Where: IFC Center (323 Ave of the Americas, New York)