Carnage Park’s maniac sniper believes “the world is a funny place.” He calmly says so right before shooting an innocent bystander in the chest from an obscenely far distance. The irony of his statement is meant to be chilling, a darkly comic declaration of post-Vietnam rage and psychosis before the dawn of Reagan’s presidency. It seems like all of those failed American foreign policies have finally come home to roost.
Instead, director Mickey Keating’s sun-drenched exploitation film delivers very few genuine scares. It tallies up a high body count while depicting Wyatt Moss’ (Pat Healey) reign of terror on hitchhikers and unfortunate motorists who’ve found their way onto his expansive mountainous property. Who needs depth when you’ve got a tired catalogue of Tarantino-esque music cues and gratuitous violence?
The survival efforts of a right wing farmer’s daughter (Ashley Bell), kidnapped by a pair of misbegotten bank robbers on the lam, eventually stymie Wyatt’s murderous rampage. When she admonishes one of the criminals for being a draft dodger like her no-good brother it’s crystal clear how Keating plans to stack the deck against her pro-war ideology. Brain fragments gloss the screen a few moments later.
Historical failures by the American government are referenced not so slyly in Carnage Park, sometimes effectively, to contextualize the complicated social issues at play during the late 1970s. Still, the base instincts of the bloodthirsty viewer must be quenched, so a series of heinous kill shots quickly make mince meat out of any intelligent subtext.
Keating’s lazy and nearly incoherent finale proves he’s more interested in plagiarizing Rob Zombie than anything else. Wyatt’s serial killing merely acts as an entryway to experience the visceral, nearly moment-to-moment aggravation of being trapped by an insufferable menace. Carnage Park, which opens Friday, July 8, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park, plays a sadistic onesided game of game of cat and mouse that fails to hit its mark.
Carnage Park: A maniacal Vietnam vet stalks innocent victims with a sniper on his expansive mountainous property in rural California. Screens through Thursday, July 14, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words: This documentary takes an in-depth look at the life and work of avant-garde musician, Frank Zappa. Les Cowboys: In this loose updating of John Ford’s The Searchers, a father goes looking for his missing daughter in the French countryside.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: Two brothers post online ads to find wedding dates to their sister’s wedding. This is quite possibly the laziest film title of all time.
My Love, Don’t Cross That River: Director Mo-young Jin looks at the relationship between a couple who’ve been together for 76 years as they enter the last stage of their marriage. Opens Friday, July 8, at the Angelika Carmel Mountain.
The Fits: Set almost entirely in a Cincinnati community center, this film follows a young girl who decides to ditch her boxing training to join a dance team, whose members begin to mysteriously be afflicted by seizure-like symptoms. Screens through Thursday, July 14, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Secret Life of Pets: Apparently dogs and cats go cray cray the second you leave your house. From the directors who made Despicable Me and Minions.
Zero Days: Alex Gibney’s latest documentary explores the world of cyber terrorism in the power struggle between America and Iran.
One Time Only
Top Gun : You can be my wingman anytime. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Strangers on a Train : Two men seated next to each other on a train have a conversation about swapping murders, and one of them takes it seriously. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 7 and 8, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Attack the Block : A gang of resilient ruffians from a poor neighborhood in London fend off an alien invasion. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at the Ken Cinema.
Muriel’s Wedding : In this enjoyable romantic comedy, Toni Collette plays an Australian woman who obsessively dreams of her wedding day while listening to ABBA. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Enter the Dragon : Bruce Lee’s fighter agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord after being invited to participate in a martial arts tournament. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, at the Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.
Ghostbusters : Revisit the classic comedy starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd before the new all-female remake hits theaters. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.