New On Demand from XYZ Films!

THE PARK (2023)

Directed and written by Shal Ngo.
Starring Chloe Guidry, Nhedrick Jabier, Carmina Garay, Carli McIntyre, Presley Richardson, Sean Papajohn, Billy Slaughter

A plague killing anyone over the age of 18 envelops the world, leaving the children to wander the landscape and survive on their own. But without the adults around, the world quickly turns into a post apocalyptic nightmare. Ines (Chloe Guidry) and Bui (Nhedrick Jabier) knew each other before the adults died and look for a fabled genius kid who knows of a cure for the plague. On their way, they discover an amusement park owned by Kuan (Carmina Garay) who has a more optimistic outlook to life without adults.

THE PARK basically takes LORD OF THE FLIES to a global level, showing that despite their innocent exterior, children can devolve into monsters when delicate social systems fall. It paints pretty bleak world. Though children star in this film, THE PARK tells a sophisticated and mature story about relationships and trauma. The beginning moments where we are introduced to Ines and Bui show that no one is to be trusted and survival of the fittest is the name of the game everyone is playing. Filmmaker Shal Ngo takes a big risk showing how brutal Ines and Bui can be in the opening scene. It could shape one’s opinion against these two protagonists, looking at them as characters not worth following. But solid acting saves both this oft-used premise and the horrors the main characters inflict.

The lead two female characters, Chloe Guidry and Carmina Garay, are the reason to check out THE PARK. These are two extremely different, yet monumentally talented little actresses. Guidry’s Ines is tough as nails and though that might be a tough sell from a twelve year old girl, Guidry sells it. She is a madwoman who has a heartlessness that transcends her innocent exterior. Carmina Garay is equally impressive as Kuan, the more optimistic of the two girls who simply wants to reopen the amusement park so kids can be kids again. It’s a wonderful pairing and relationship that develops between these two characters. Both actresses are extremely likable and I can see them being big names as they don’t feel like they are just spouting lines fed to them off camera. They make the movie.

The rest of THE PARK is somewhat predictable and really feels like the pilot for a series rather than a movie. It’s a fun concept—a world without adults, one that would be especially attractive to a younger audience. While it is violent, somewhat gory, has some situations where children are killed, and uses foul language, I could see my teenage self really digging this film. It doesn’t pander or frame the children acting in ways they wouldn’t. The performances feel genuine with the kids acting like kids or in some cases, acting like what they think adults should act as. It all separates this film from one made for children, as it doesn’t shy away from themes that some might want to shelter children from. THE PARK is not for little ones, but mid-to late teens should be fine with it. It’s got some great performances from surefire soon to be stars, so see it for that alone.

Check out the trailer here!!