Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Glenn Morshower, Emily Foxler, Randy Wayne, Jelynn Rodriguez, Julie Skon, Kavan Reece, Zulay Henao, Shedrack Anderson III
Written & Directed by Tom Skull
Distributed by Allumination Film Works
I went into Grizzly Park expecting a fun nature gone amok exploitation flick about a rampaging bear terrorizing twentysomething’s in the woods. but all I ended up with was an almost unbearable bore of a movie with a killer bear that barely factors into the scheme of things until the last 15-minutes. Seriously, almost all of the bear action – or any kind of action for that matter – is reserved for the final 15-minutes. Pretty much everything prior to that climax was lethargically paced, pointless filler that failed to amuse even on the most rudimentary b-movie level. To call Grizzly Park a profound letdown would be an understatement.
A group of young adult criminals have been sentenced to community service. Their assignment is to help clean up a section of the forest known as Grizzly Park. All that needs to be said about these characters is that they are so stereotypical, so one-dimensional, so utterly vapid, so poorly written that by comparison they make the victim characters from See No Evil seem like the creations of Tennessee Williams. This bunch gives the term “mouth breathers” a bad name.
Glenn Morshower, best known as the great Agent Pierce on TV’s “24”, is the comically named Ranger Bob, the stoic park ranger overseeing the hooligans’ chores. For most of the film Morshower sounded about as disinterested as I was watching all this, sometimes even appearing to be on the verge of letting out a “woe is me” sigh. And keep in mind his is easily the best character in the film.
The worst character of the lot would have to be the escaped murderer who snuffed out the bus driver, took his uniform, and his job after deciding that hiding out in the woods for a week with a bunch of delinquents would be a good way to get the authorities off his scent. I call this character the worst because a good deal of time is spent building him up as a potentially bigger menace than the bear only for the bear to abruptly off him around the halfway point before he ever got to do, well, anything. What was the point of including this character?
Or maybe the worst character was the white kid with all the white power tattoos who never displayed any outward signs of white supremacy, not even any hostility directed at the token black or Asian characters? Why even include something like that if you’re not going to make a bigger deal out of it?
After a handful of very brief cameos, the bear, at long last, runs wild during the closing 15 minute slaughter in what is easily the best part of the film even though it was too little too late by that point to salvage it. At least something of interest was finally happening; preferably the something of interest we’d all been led to believe would be the focal point of Grizzly Park from start to finish and not just the finish. Again, I repeat, you have to slog through the tiresomely plodding, nothing happening, first two-thirds just to get to the gory bear rampage which, admittedly, delivers the goods if ever too briefly. There’s even a twist ending thrown in that would have been far more satisfying had the rest of the film been far more satisfying.
Writer-director Tom Skull may know how to make a low budget movie look good and how to effectively shoot gore but, boy, could he use some screenwriting tips and a class or two about pacing a film. Most of the needlessly dull first hour seemed to be going for something along the lines of a teen comedy about the wacky antics of a bunch of dunces and the hapless straight-laced authority figure trying to keep them in line. If it was comedy Skull was shooting for, he was shooting blanks. Unless you count a girl so dumb she thinks a skunk is a “forest cat” and ends up causing everyone to get sprayed; that’s what passes for primo humor here.
The only thing I found funny was the silly kiddy theme song that sounded like something Barney the Purple Dinosaur would get all the children around him to sing if they went on a camping trip and found themselves at the mercy of a guy in a goofy bear costume very much like the one a character in the film somehow managed to smuggle out into the woods despite it having been entirely too large to have fit into his backpack. I digress. Still, the story told in that happy little camping song sounded like it had more thought put into it than the actual screenplay of the movie itself.
That skunk incident I mentioned a moment ago will result in everyone having to strip down to wash off yet this does not lead to any nudity. Amazing how Skull manages to work in pretty much every cliché you’d expect yet stops short when it comes to T&A. Aren’t movies about attractive young characters that head out into the woods to smoke dope and get killed required by law to include some gratuitous nudity at some point?
So we’re denied any T&A and we’re grossly shortchanged on the killer bear action the movie is sold upon in favor of a long slog of witless antics and exposition. Just what kind of exploitation flick did the makers of Grizzly Park think they were making?
1 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
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