Film Review: The Park
Director: Shal Ngo
Shal Ngo’s The Park is a Lord of the Flies–inspired tale of three tweens trying to find their way in life two years after a virus killed off all the adults on Earth. The film sets up its premise through a quick-and-dirty opening credit sequence, a montage packed with boilerplate news broadcasts of panic and a map of the globe being overrun by the virus (complete with an ever-ticking death counter).
We meet Ines (Chloe Guidry) and Bui (Nhedrick Jabier), tough-as-nails kids who are introduced in a suitably violent manner as they cut down a boy with whom they cross paths in the woods. They claim to be on the hunt for a “genius kid” who has found the cure for the virus that has taken all adults from Earth and will inevitably take their own lives. They find their way to an abandoned theme park populated by a single inhabitant, Kuan (Carmina Garay), whose spirited attitude stands in stark contrast to the other children’s bleak outlook on survival. Kuan dreams of re-opening the park and bringing joy to children who lost so much. As we learn more about each character, it’s apparent that all is not as it seems.
This is a fairly basic premise that benefits largely from being released in the wake of a real-life pandemic. There are subtle nods to COVID-19 here (remember when many believed that children couldn’t get COVID?) but thankfully nothing terribly hamfisted. The young actors perform their roles with suitable gusto. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t do them any favors with its uneven tonal shifts and clunky dialogue. While some scenes land with decent emotion, others feel completely wooden and unnatural. The film doesn’t carry a consistent tone or genre as it jumps from violent thriller to coming-of-age comedy to existential drama without confidently landing on any of them.
The Park takes full advantage of its eponymous location. Shot in the ruins of the Six Flags New Orleans, Ngo covers every last square inch of the park with soaring drone shots. The gorgeous location makes for some stunning imagery, even on the film’s slim budget. Given The Park’s meandering nature, it seems as though the location was the main draw of making the film, with the story coming secondary. It is a remarkable backdrop for a fairly unremarkable story.
The Park doesn’t seem to know its target audience. It’s too violent and profane to be for kids but not dark or gory enough for typical adult-genre enthusiasts. It’s not serious enough to be taken seriously, but not campy enough to be fun. That said, where most post-apocalyptic media dives straight into nihilism, The Park’s hopeful view of humanity is a refreshing new angle for the genre. –Seth Turek
Read more reviews of post-apocalyptic films:
Film Review: Mad God
Film Review: The Matrix Resurrections
Always FREE, thanks to READERS LIKE YOU!
Donate $10 OR MORE to get a SLUG sticker pack!