Jay Woelfel, who now in early 2018 has over 30 horror film credits to his name, and works in different aspects in the industry, recently released his strange flick Asylum of Darkness (2017), thought it best to revisit an archive review of a previous work of his.
Director and writer Jay Woelfel, created an interesting thriller, which borders on the line of a horror film, yet uses a real location before its demise and removal from the face of the earth, Chippewa Lake Park, and creates a nostalgia movie, tinged with supernatural occurrences to terrorize two visitors in a nightmarish design that longs for souls.
The entire script falls into the realm of the surreal, and fills the edges with suggestive imaginary, dream sequences and confusing hallucinations, all orchestrated by the Carny, played wonderfully by actor Joe Unger, a man with a horror resume of wonderment, and a blessing for this movie. Unger brings a kooky representation of the ghostly manifestation that seeks on claiming the primitive ways of carnival days of the old-times, and with him at the helm, no problem is too large, after all, he starred with Pumpkinhead, Freddy Krueger, and Leatherface at some point in his life, what is the problem with two meddling teens. In addition to Unger, the cast remains small with three major candidates left, Kristy (Aimee Brooks), James (Damian Maffel) and the park itself, which takes center at every given moment, especially for its last hurrah, and immortalize for wonderful enjoyment. The park has the dying wish and desire to rekindle the passion and regain attention to its corpse, and the teens must battle the Carny for survival or become a piece of the park forever, assisted by a desolate broken down rides, overgrown with nature reclaiming it, over the past decades. Often a brief whisper of sexual pandering occurs between the Carny and Kristy, a recalling of how she was child when she visits and now a young woman, though when interacting with James, the balancing acts transcends to deeper secret meanings. James represents the son of the owners of the park and yet seems to understand much about the park a sort of purgatory with each living out their own hell and trying to overcome their endless existence. Although the Carny acts more as the Prince of Darkness and runs the park as an endless corridor of a funhouse, filled with sadistic games and tricks, testing the loyalties to each other and to create havoc within their lives. It is rare when an actor has the leeway to develop multiple characters a great responsibility bestowed upon them the carry the entire movie, and here Unger completes the task by wearing different costumes in the attempt of a scary performance.
The entire haunting of amusements ventures into a great subgenre of the horror market, with such story concepts as Scream Park (2012) to The Funhouse (1981) and The Lost Boys (1987) in fact the genre actually contains about 60 horror films on the topic, showing the love affair with places that many worked at over the years. Many viewers will recall the swindles and tricks to the games, that the teens must work to overcome and win to live or risk dire consequences. The overused cabins, colleges, and creepy-abandoned hospitals tend to wear out the audience hence refreshing when the thriller returns to the fun at an entertainment family park.
The park provides an excellent backdrop of so many possibilities, but the gags finds themselves more of wimpy version, the lack of blood and gore leaves many wanting more, though pranks silly form, might reflect the clown’s intentions, highly unlikely. Especially if factoring to the summoning of a Creature from the Lake, a corny representation to the classic Universal Monster The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), only to not use it to an effect manner. Chippewa gave freely the rusted and broken rides, eerie surroundings without pouring any more money into the production, it offers no slashing, almost bloodless victims, and it sadly gives up the ghost in the end. The endless scenes of walking, and mediocre dialogue followed by some tedious events, and everyone agrees the dreadful usage of the CGI work on the rollercoaster and falling victim afterwards, the biggest mistake in the movie. One hopes that the movie would conjure the sounds and actions of olden parks, the quaintness of them with a peaceful family enjoyment sadly while it presents some it the action never goes full circle.
The DVD artwork really provides and interests for this reviewer, a fan of carnival horror films and abandoned parks one expects many possibilities, viewing the pictures of dilapidated buildings on Pinterest, and noting that Arcadia Publishing even has a book on the location, recalling the existence and demise into the ghostly remnants. Be forewarned, if you seek bloody horror avoid this park, though if seek storytelling and the talented work of Joe Unger, then this thriller, brings back the ghostly minutes of the past and casts them upon viewers to generate an interest in discovering James’ mystery.
The review originally posted on Rogue Cinema site in July 2015 with 1,631 views.
IMDb’s Rating: 3.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 3/10