The Park: Review. By Rudie Obias
A few years removed from the start of COVID-19 and we’ve seen a number of movies—especially genre movies—that were conceived, inspired by, or created because of the global pandemic. Although the reality is more horrific than a fictional movie version, the pandemic subgenre has been a staple in horror since the dawn of cinema. It’s always fun to imagine what the world would be like if a large portion of humanity were wiped out, while watching people on the big screen living through the worst of the worst puts us in the shoes of survivalists.
The horror movie The Park is the latest entry into the pandemic sub-genre and it offers up some engaging world-building and hearty scares, but ultimately, wears thin and fragile—even at a short 76 minute running time.
Written and directed by Shal Ngo (in his feature film debut), The Park takes place in post-apocalyptic Louisiana a few years after a global pandemic kills off all of the adult population. Only prepubescent boys and girls survived this plague because a mysterious illness is triggered at the beginning of puberty.
The movie follows Ines (Chloe Guidry) and Bui (Nhedrick Jabier), two scavengers who ambush unexpecting targets for food, water, and weapons. The pair come across Kuan (Carmina Garay), a young girl who lives in an abandoned amusement park. As they try to take over the park themselves and fight off a roaming band called “The Blue Meanies,” they come to find out that Kuan has the real key to survival in an unforgiving world.
While The Park certainly has an intriguing high concept—a world run by survivalist children during a deadly global pandemic—the film itself doesn’t live up to it. The Park is really messy balancing the world of the film and the characters who live inside of it. In some ways, it feels as if it would work better as a novel or novella instead of a feature film. It has good bones, but nothing to keep it together like an amusement park without any working rides or attractions. It’s no fun at all.
The character Kuan spends most of the time trying to resurrect an abandoned amusement park to give kids an outlet to be kids again instead of being burdened with the responsibilities and grimness of survival. It’s an admirable feat. However, much like the amusement park, the idea of fun being a kid gets abandoned, as The Park shifts into a save a world narrative with nothing tying the two themes together. It feels small with a large ambition.
At its core, The Park is a story of redemption and trying to regain your childhood. Throughout the film, Ines’ journey is at the center. She navigates through a bleak world with cunning and ruthlessness, but with a surprisingly sympathetic quality, as a kid trying to be an adult. However, it just doesn’t seem to be fully realized in the film itself with so many shortcomings. The story feels flat and limp on the big screen, which is why, considering the concept, it would feel better and more alive, if we left it to our imaginations on the page in a novel or short story. As it stands, The Park is no walk in the park.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.