Grizzly Park (DVD)
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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