Entertainment Magazine

#1,517. Dark Ride (2006)

Posted on the 12 October 2014 by Dvdinfatuation
#1,517. Dark Ride  (2006)
Directed By: Craig Singer
Starring: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers
Tag line: "Will you survive the ride of your life?"
Trivia: This movie premiered at the 2006 Hollywood Film Festival
Carnivals and amusement parks have, over the years, been the setting for a number of horror films, some of which were “hits” (Carnival of Souls, The Funhouse) and some that were “misses” (Carnival of Blood). Dark Ride, a 2006 movie directed by Craig Singer, definitely falls into the “miss” category. In fact, it misses by a mile!
In 1989, twin sisters Colleen and Samantha (Brittney and Chelsey Coyle) hopped on the Dark Ride, a horror-themed attraction that you view via a rail car, at the Asbury Park Amusement Pier, and never made it out alive. Turns out a killer was living inside the attraction and the two girls were only the latest in a string of potential victims. Since that fateful day, the ride has sat dormant, but all that’s about to change. The fun begins when a group of college friends: Cathy (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), Liz (Jennifer Tisdale),Bill (Patrick Renna), Steve (David Clayton Rogers), and Jim (Alex Solowitz), along with Jen (Andrea Bogart), a ditzy hitchhiker they picked up, were on their way to Spring Break when they discovered the Asbury Park Dark Ride is going to re-open in a few days. Not willing to wait that long, the group decides to skip the hotel and spend the night inside the attraction instead. Their timing, however, couldn’t have been worse; the killer (Dave Warden) who, for years, was locked away in an insane asylum, just escaped, and has made his way back to the attraction he once called home. What’s more, he’s none too happy to find out he has company.
The characters in Dark Ride cover all the bases: the couple whose relationship is on the rocks (Cathy and Steve); the nerd (Bill, a movie geek); the lead girl’s slutty friend (Liz); and the stoner (Jim). Along the way, they even pick up an oddball hitchhiker (Jen). Ultimately, though, it’s not the characters themselves that hurt the movie (Dark Ride isn’t the first horror film to adhere to these clichés, and it certainly won’t be the last), but the lame dialog they’re forced to deliver. Bill rattles off bits of movie trivia that aren’t the least bit relevant to…. well, anything (when he and Steve are leaving their dorm room to meet up with the girls, Bill complains about how Michael Cimino nearly bankrupt an entire studio with Heaven’s Gate), and within moments of being picked up, Jen the hitchhiker launches into a tirade designed to make her look like a total loon (she complains about some random guy who tried talking music with her, a speech so ridiculous, so incredibly forced, that I honestly wanted to switch the movie off right then and there).
Is it possible to make a good horror film with the above characters? Absolutely! Character development and dialog were never a strong point of ‘80s slasher films, many of which I love to this day. What made those movies good, however, were their effective scares, and this is the biggest sin committed by Dark Ride: it’s not the least bit frightening. The opening scene, where the twin girls are picked off generates zero tension, and later on, when the above characters are running for their lives from the killer, I was actually kinda bored. There wasn’t a single moment in this movie that put me on edge. Was it the inconsistency of the killer that ruined it (sometimes he walks slowly with a limp, other times he darts down a darkened corridor), or the fact that this dark ride seemed as big as a city block (I’ve ridden through a few of these in my time, none of which lasted more than five minutes. This one is so huge that you’d need to pack a lunch before you started)? Ultimately, it’s a mixture of all these elements that dooms Dark Ride. Poorly developed characters I can deal with, but couple that with poorly developed horror and you have a movie that’s dead on arrival.

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