DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

Listen to the PODCAST I co-host: Hosts in the Shell

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Trigger Warning: Downrange vs Carnage Park


Trigger Warning: Downrange vs Carnage Park

The premise of an unseen shooter picking off targets isn't necessarily a new one but it can be an effectively ghastly one. There are a number of films that have elements of this: Netflix’s Red Dot has the titular scene of a couple menaced by the laser sight of a sniper set against a beautiful snowy landscape. Then there’s the sickeningly powerful final third of Full Metal Jacket which sees crack US marines helplessly pinned down by a lone sniper. In Brit thriller Towerblock the plot effectively brings a ‘retribution through sniper’ motiv and Targets back in ’68 riffed on the average guy snaps – buys lots of ammo and starts shooting random people. Let’s not forget the claustrophobic Phone Booth either which took the location and minimised it.

Baddie snipers can be found in Jack Reacher, Dirty Harry films and American Sniper to name but a few. Horror auteur Ti West explore the trope in Trigger Man and there are a seemingly never-ending number of entries in the Sniper movie franchise where it’s the hero with the long barrel gun.

Here though I’m looking at two real gut-punch horror flicks – the ‘new fresh prince of horror’ Mickey Keating’s Carnage Park which my favourite description of is ‘the hills have eyes and they also have a sniper rifle’ and the cinematic tour-de-force and incredibly violent Downrange from Ryûhei Kitamura…

So let our sniper-em-up showdown commence:


Downrange (18)

Dir. Ryûhei Kitamura

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Sergeant, we have a shooter in an elevated position. Request state assistance as soon as possible.”

The fear of the unknown is a primal one. The fear that somewhere in the aforementioned ‘unknown’ is a maniac with a high-powered rifle who wants you dead is even worse… Hold that thought.

Country road trips can be taxing – but they’re generally less fun when you get a tire blowout. Meet Todd (Rod Hernandez) and his girlfriend Sara (Alexa Yeames) a young couple giving a ride to their pals Jodi (Kelly Connaire) and Keren (Stephanie Pearson), Eric (Anthony Kirlew) and Jeff (Jason Tobias). All is fine with flirty banter and small talk until one of their SUV’s tires explodes. As the youngsters struggle to change the tire and Sara tries organise a group selfie a muffled gunshot fizzes out of nowhere blowing most of her head apart.

From that moment on Ryûhei ‘Azumi’ Kitamura's Downrange changes from being just another teen road movie into a nail biting survive-em-up which amps up the tension along with the body count.

'I spy with my little eye...'

The bogeyman sniper is a fearsome enemy. Well positioned, relentlessly accurate and in no hurry to rush through his latest batch of victims. It’s a simple but hugely suspenseful set up that sucks you in with powerful cinematic scenery and likeable victims and won’t let you go until the final girl tries to face down the killer.

There are plenty of other horror tropes mixed such as the ill-fated occupants of another vehicle bearing a family happen along, I don’t fancy their chances... And then the police arrive – will they save the day or are they too going to be walking target meat bags?

'things get a bit out of hand...'

Downrange is a visually visceral experience, it is not a film for the easily shocked or those looking for some light-hearted entertainment.  If you thought Kitamura's nihilistic No One Lives was his darkest work, think again. Here is a sniper bogeyman for the ages, the terror and tension engage on a primal level and the level of savage glee on display is purely disturbing in the best possible way.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4.5 - Wrong place, wrong time, grim but fun)

Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...



Carnage Park (18)

Dir. Mickey Keating

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Well, sir, some folks might get mad... some folks might even wanna take a little revenge. 'Cos idle hands, Well... They're the devil's playground. The Bible says so, so it must be true. But... Either way, out here - there's one thing that's certain. God don't pick no favourites.”

What happens when a deranged Vietnam Vet is left to create his own psychotic ‘carnage park’ in a dusty stretch of hell? Here we have a film that is part ‘true crime’ shot through Tarantino filter – bank heist gone wrong / turns into kidnapping / then goes full gnarly gore-fest.. You have to give props to a film that bears the title card: ‘The film you are about to see is perhaps the most bizarre episode in the annals of American crime.’

'dem country folk have odd ways'

If you’re getting Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes then you’re on the right (twisted) path. After a monologue from our sniper gun lovin Veteran Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy) we get to join a calamity prone duo of felons named Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hébert) and his partner in crime Lenny (Michael Villar). Lenny’s not doing so good - bleeding out in the backseat of the getaway car whilst unwitting hostage Vivian’s (Ashley Bell) screams echo from the trunk. So far, so Reservoir Dogs, but this is merely a prelude to the insanity and ‘carnage’, which forms the main part of the film.

'get away car'

Vivian is a survivor you see but for a good part of the film its her versus Wyatt in a savage battle of cat-and-mouse shot though with a heavy dose of insanity and some very nasty deaths. The lean, mean plot works to the film's advantage, and the gruesome tour around the killer’s bunker of body filled mineshafts is a hark back to ‘70s massacre films in the same way that Rob Zombie worships those heady days of horror.

Taking a trip to Carnage Park is a rollercoaster of thrills, spills and heavy-duty shocks.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Shoot em all - let God sort them out...)

Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...


Both Downrange and Carnage Park are well worth checking out for those who like to test themselves  – and would make a seriously ‘killer’ double bill!?


No comments: