In order to complete a successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, you need a strong – if not necessarily original – idea, and Scream Park certainly has that. Twice over it seems, given that it was successfully funded through both of those platforms. It’s a shame the publicity has focussed so heavily on the twist ending though, as the story of a bunch of amusement park employees whose afterhours party is disturbed in the most fatal fashion ought to have been enough to draw potential viewers. Disclosing the reason for the killers’ arrival isn’t the film’s biggest problem, however; after eight months of production, it’s sad that despite a healthy enough conceit and a cast of likeable if occasionally rather green actors, the finished film feels like an incomplete rough-cut.
Visitor numbers are dropping at Fright Land to such an alarming extent that the owners have filed for bankruptcy and the park is on the brink of closing down, when a handful of the teenage staff make the worst decision of their lives by holding a lock-in party the very night that owner Mr Hyde has chosen to take matters into his own hands. As Jennifer searches for her missing would-be boyfriend Blake and Allison arranges the provision of alcohol, Marty tries to impress upon the workers the importance of organising their post-employment paperwork and Tony and Carlee sneak off to christen the women’s facilities. Meanwhile the uptight caretaker Henry gets more than he bargains for as he does his late night rounds.
It might have been a lot of fun, and the set-up certainly introduces the characters and their preoccupations assuredly enough. But the acting is patchy; with half the cast as convincing and confident as the other half are tentative and inadequate. Meanwhile the photography is mostly accomplished, with some nice establishing shots and a decent grasp of place. There are a number of occasions where camera glitches have been allowed to remain, however, presumably due to the lack of enough funds for replacement shots, and although the musical score is excellent it’s in the ambient soundtrack that the biggest problems arise.
The combination of inconsistently placed microphones, intermittent ADR and a lack of foley results in unpredictable ambiences, disappearing voices and inappropriate silences, and creates a huge distance between the film and its audience – which would have been simple to rectify and would have made a huge difference to the end result. Scream Park would still have been an amateur work, but passably rather than hopelessly so. Unfortunately the producers seem to have settled for second best, and therefore it’s impossible to allow your disbelief to suspend itself fully enough to easily enjoy the outcome. An almost worthwhile effort.
Special Features: trailer / bloopers
SCREAM PARK / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: CARY HILL / SCREENPLAY: CARY HILL / STARRING: WENDY WYGANT, DOUG BRADLEY / RELEASE DATE: 25TH APRIL