You’d expect sleazy and exploitative from a movie called “Carnage Park” and this one pretty much delivers.
Horror and crime purveyor Mickey Keating (“Pod,” “Ritual,” “Ultra Violence”) can’t be called original — his ideas have been lifted from several sources (“Hostel,” Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriquez) — but he has the knack for putting together a good-looking, effectively creepy feature on a bare-bones budget.
The film begins with two lowlife criminals, Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hebert) and Lenny (Michael Villar), tearing down a desolate highway after a botched bank robbery.
Lenny is gut shot and clearly on the way out. Scorpion Joe is a redneck egotist with a manic faith in his own invincibility.
Also in the car is Vivian (Ashley Bell), who had the bad luck to be at the bank protesting the foreclosure on her family farm. She was taken hostage.
Basically this is Vivian’s story, and Bell does a nice job of tracking the character’s emotional orbit as she bounces between sheer hysteria and desperate survival efforts.
Most of the film takes place on the hilly, arid spread lorded over by Wyatt (Pat Healy), a Vietnam vet living in survivalist isolation. (The time is 1976, which frees writer/director Keating from any concerns about someone using a cell phone to contact the authorities.)
Wyatt is never seen except in combat fatigues, complete with helmet, gas mask and a sniper rifle. He talks calmly enough but the the guy is clearly crazy.
Apparently over the years he’s made a habit of kidnapping travelers on a nearby highway, subjecting them to hideous tortures and then holding big-game hunts with his prisoners as the prey. (He collects ears as trophies.)
Keating’s screenplay is heavy on flashbacks (providing backstories on characters whose deaths we’ve already seen) and oddball musical choices. This isn’t Shakespeare but the players are solid. Healy’s role is particularly interesting.
Fans of gross-out cinema should enjoy this one.