Director – Craig Singer
Cast – Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers, Alex Solowitz, Andrea Bogart, Jennifer Tisdale, Brittney Coyle, Chelsey Coyle
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is the very first film I screened at the first Horrorfest that occurred back in 2006, and while I enjoyed the idea of Horrorfest I was let down by this first initial watch. I will always give a modern day slasher film a chance because I am always looking to find a new slasher that brings back the good feel of the golden slashers form the 70s and 80s, but most of the time I wind up with a disappointing watch like this one.
Dark Ride follows six friends on a road trip who decide to sneak into an amusement park attraction known as the “Dark Ride”. What was supposed to be a night of fun hijinks turns into a night of terror when a malevolent killer escapes a mental hospital and returns to the “Dark Ride”, the very spot he murdered two young girls 10 years prior.
If you know me then you know that I am an avid fan of any horror film involving a funhouse/amusement/carnival setting, so I had some fairly high expectations for this one. I figured that my love for such films would help me to overcome whatever minor faults I would find in the film, but that really did not work for this one.
From the get-go the film takes off at an OK pace, and when we reach the “Dark Ride” we are given a cool atmosphere full of animatronic creatures/killers/victims that add a fun feel to the film, but from then on out Dark Ride falls into a painful demise. This great idea suffered some heavy faults regarding the story, which took an extremely long time to develop. Now, I don’t mind long/slow development as long as it goes according with the rest of the film, but that was not the case here. For a film that is 95 minutes long, it took 61 minutes for the real carnage to ensue, and that is way too long for a 95 minute film. If this were a 120 minute film I would not mind, but it is not, and such long development is not forgivable in this case. We do get a cool opening sequence and some cool kills during this development, but they are not the true purpose of the film, and such sequences do not take place until the timeframe I mentioned. Once things really do get going at that point the film never heads in a positive direction, and delivers mediocre character usage including a “twist” ending that was neither shocking nor satisfying.
As far as direction goes we get good visuals and sets from Craig Singer(Perkins 14) but his execution is mediocre the whole way through. He does deliver some great gore when we are given gore, but the scenes are few and far between. His acting performances are all sub-par, although I doubt good acting performances would have saved the character given how poorly written they were. Had he been given a better screenplay then his mediocre direction may have been worth something, but with both uninspired writing and direction Dark Ride was set to fail.
Overall, this is a mediocre watch that could have amounted to a pretty cool slasher had it not fallen victim itself to a poor screenplay and some promising but overall mediocre direction.