THE PARK Review: Beyond The Horrors Of The World, A Worthy Message For The Children
The Park is currently available on VOD from XYZ Films.
While filmmaker Shal Ngo is long entrenched in the shorts and television arena, it’s a considerable breath of fresh that he’s made his feature debut in fine form this year with the release of The Park. A young cast headlining Chloe Guidry, Nhedrick Jabier, and Carmina Garay lead the way for the new dystopian thriller which takes off from a viral outbreak in which adults are all wiped out, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
That’s where our story kicks in with Ines and Bui, a pair of mask-wearing vagabonds who live day-to-day poaching whatever they can and killing whomever they have to to get it. Their latest dibs are spotted at what looks like a nearby amusement park where Ines’s attempt to loot what she can after luring its sole occupant, Kuan, soon turns on its head, forcing Ines and eventually Bui to acquiesce to their newfound authority in Kuan who’s got her own plans for the park in the much larger scheme of things. Little do the three of them know that a small squad of infamous scavengers and a gruesome revelation may well tear them apart, in a propulsive event that will soon bring Ines and Bui to the point of no return.
The inflection point in the second half of the film ultimately brings things full circle with the narrative. We know there’s a plague and we’re told of its victims, and the film eventually goes into the “why”. Keep up with the film from start to finish and you’ll get an exact handle on this very twist, but the story far from discourages you from watching even after the fact. The Park takes you on a whirlwind adventure packed with intrigue, tragedy, and self-discovery all fitting for a coming-of-age allegory that boldly blends several genres, and culminates it with brilliant performances. The Park is a world in which most of the children know only one way of surviving, as they are separated from any potential avenue or window to kindness or betterment.
Ngo’s script sharply conveys this in the story arc between Ines, an adolescent teen with an afflicted past, and Kuan, whose sole occupancy right then appears to be reminding Ines of what “could be”, with the amusement park and all its devices at her disposal. The real and important answers don’t come until the arrival of the mysterious scavengers with their elliptical origins, beings who could be as young as our characters, and who don’t seem to talk.
In the complete unfolding of events of The Park, therein lies a deeper, poetic allure and beauty beneath the ugliness, with a forward-looking and albeit fantastical message that still sits tangible as the story comes to a head. Far from the splashy and kickass spectacle of Jovanka Vukovic’s Riot Girls, The Park reimagines an adult-less world through a more unnerving and terrifying lens, and crafts a tale that dares us to redefine it less so with our words than our actions, and does so with reverent effect.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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