Dark Ride (2006)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Horror, Slasher Film
A group of six friends on a road trip stop off at an amusement park attraction named 'Dark Ride', unaware that a psychopath who brutally murdered two girls, has just escaped a mental institution and is seeking refuge there. --IMDb
Craig Singer Craig Singer
Jamie-Lynn Sigler Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Patrick Renna Patrick Renna
David Clayton Rogers David Clayton Rogers
Alex Solowitz Alex Solowitz
Andrea Bogart Andrea Bogart
Movie Connections:
After Dark Horrorfest
> Reincarnation (2005)
> The Gravedancers (2005)
> Hood Of Horror (2006)
> Unrest (2006)
> The Abandoned (2006)
> The Tripper (2006)
> Dark Ride (2006)
> Wicked Little Things (2006)
> Penny Dreadful (2006)
> The Hamiltons (2006)

4.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: June 19, 2007
I have a thing for those cheesy slasher films that were such a mainstay during the eighties, and even though nearly every one of them features the same tired clichés and the same plots, I just can't get enough of them. Dark Ride follows this slasher formula fairly well for the most part, and although I had an issue with the pacing in the first half of the film, it was shaping up to receive at least an above average rating. Then the ending rolled around, and... well, read on.

Two little girls decide to ride the "Dark Ride", the main attraction at a New Jersey carnival in which you get to ride on carts through a haunted house. What they don't know is that there's a serial killer on the loose in the building, and as a result, both of the kids wind up dead. The killer is apprehended and sentenced to life in a mental institution, the ride is shut down, and life goes on for the town of Asbury Park.

Fast-forward about twenty years. A group of college kids decide to head down to New Orleans for spring break, and along the way, they happen to find an advertisement promoting the grand reopening of the infamous Dark Ride. They - Bill (Patrick Renna), Cathy (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), Steve (David Clayton Rogers), Jim (Alex Solowitz), and Liz (Jennifer Tisdale) - also pick up a hitchhiker (Andrea Bogart) along the way, and thankfully for this rather crowded van, it doesn't take long before they reach their destination... at which time they realize that the grand reopening isn't for another three days. The place is deserted and it's the middle of the night, so like any good college kids, they decide to break in and spend the night there in order to have a little premarital sex and smoke some pot, but what they don't know is that the serial killer has recently escaped from the loony bin and has come home to his amusement park hiding place.

The movie opens up with a bang as we're watching a little girl get her guts ripped out within the first five minutes, and although this scene was severely edited in the final version of the film, it's still pretty graphic (you can see the full thing in the deleted scenes section of the DVD). Then, we get to know a little bit about the main characters... and then we learn a little more about them... and just a little more... and then, we get to find out even more of their personality traits. It's pretty apparent that this story would have been better suited for an hour-long Masters of Horror episode than a ninety minute movie, but the filmmakers made damned good use of the haunted house setting so it wasn't a complete bust.

Then, the action kicks in and we're treated to a modern day version of those eighties slashers that I just finished praising. Every cliché in the book is presented here: the couple who decides to go have sex only to meet up with the killer, the cell phone that doesn't work, the seemingly invincible killer in a creepy mask, the stupid decisions by the stars, the splitting up of the main characters so that they can be picked off one by one, and the twist ending that sets up for a sequel. I could have dealt with all of this; after all, each and every last one of these scenes is a staple in just about any slasher film on the market, and it wouldn't be a good one without them.

My problem with the film was that ending and how god-awful it turned out to be. I can understand wanting to throw in a final twist to shock the audience and I can also understand setting up for a sequel. But this? This final scene was the very definition of "tacked-on ending", and it actually made no sort of sense whatsoever. I mean, I understood the pieces of the story that were revealed, but why? Why did these characters do what they did? How did the stars align to allow this to happen? There's real-world logic, there's movie logic, and then there's bullshit logic - the ending of Dark Ride managed to go one step further.

It's not a complete and utter waste of time, as there are some good moments to be found here if you're a fan of slasher flicks. There's certainly nothing new or original to be found, mind you, but those of you who share my sentiments on the genre will probably find a couple of good points in the film. There's a handful of good gore sequences, the killer is excellent, and the funhouse backdrop was perfect - it's just a shame that some bad pacing decisions and a horrific ending hurt this one so much. 4/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 06/24/2007, 07:50 PM
Probably my least favorite film in the After Dark Horrorfest series. 2/10.
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