While travelling across state from Nashville, a quartet of teenagers - Lance (Brad Bell), Lyndsey (Morgan Wiggins), Ryder (Jordyn Rudolph) and Sean (Ryan Rudolph) - on a road trip unwisely choose to follow a detour which leads them deep into the Kentuckian woods. All is not lost, however, as they stumble across a scream park known as - you've guessed it - Talon Falls. So far, so HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES ...
None of this group bats an eyelid when they're plucked from the park's lengthy queue for no apparent reason and offered the chance to jump to the front. They accept the offer, and pretty soon they're in the park enjoying its dubious attractions.
These include a disconcertingly realistic-looking electric chair scenario, where punters are invited to flick the switch and watch an unfortunate "convict" (Josh Iervese) fry. Lance, the most annoying member of the group - he wears his baseball cap backwards and likes to play the odd prank or two - is quick to flick the switch and revel in the smouldering set-piece unravelling before his eyes. "Fry, you motherfucker!" he excitedly exclaims. But it's all a performance, staged for the paying customers ... correct?
The group inevitably splits up as they embark further into the park's dark, labyrinthine corridors. At first, they don't realise that surveillance cameras are capturing their reactions in every room, as they stumble upon various scenes of torture porn and the like.
Ever the inquisitive one, Lance goes off to explore and happens upon the park's control room, where he watches a few old videotapes of footage previously caught by the park's owners. Lo and behold, it transpires that perhaps not everything they've been witnessing in the park is staged, and they may be in very real danger while within its walls.
Sure enough, our witless foursome is soon rendered unconscious by hulking brutes in masks which appear to be rejects from an old Slipknot stage show. When they next awaken, the quartet find themselves behind the scenes of the scream park along with a few other unfortunate punters - caged, and guarded by ravenous-seeming dogs.
Oh dear. Guess who these dodgy park-owners have in mind to play the stooges in their next public performances?
My synopsis takes you roughly 34 minutes into this 74-minute venture. It would be unfair to reveal anything further. But, really, I don't need to anyway - the remaining 50 minutes of TALON FALLS essentially descend (escalate?) into escape attempts, extended fight sequences and curiously coy torture set-pieces.
If you were hoping for some insight into the characters, I can't offer any unless I was prepared to start wildly speculating. Certainly, writer-director Joshua Shreve's by-the-numbers script offers none. Which leaves us with one-dimensional tropes for whom we feel no fear. There is no tension, a shortcoming which is further confounded by Shreve's pathological need to move things along at a breakneck pace. Where has the art of slowly-mounting tension gone in American horror pictures?!
Cliched and predictable, corny and sadly lacking in the one thing that would've got it noticed by the audience most likely to accept it (gore), TALON FALLS only really has its admittedly decent production values and design to fall back on. Even these are contrived, pulling largely from the SAW franchise and Rob Zombie's movies. But if you can stomach such familiar, polished aesthetic qualities, then by all means - go for it.
TALON FALLS, which at least deserves kudos for actually having been shot on location at the genuine scream park of the same name in Kentucky, comes to region-free DVD thanks to the folk at MVD Visual.
The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Colours and detail are bold, a natural sharpness to proceedings complements the strong black presentations nicely. There is very little to quibble over here, visually.
Audio-wise, we get choices of the English soundtrack in 2.0 and 5.1. Both convey music and sound effects well, but dialogue is sometimes muted in both offerings. It's good, then, that we're proffered the option of English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing ... even if these are sometimes slightly out of synch.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. A static scene selection option affords access to the film via 20 chapters.
Extras consist of a 10-minute Behind The Scenes featurette containing a wealth of on-location footage and sound-bites, along with the film's original 95-second trailer.
TALON FALLS offers nothing in the way of originality and further falls short in the writing department due to its array of one-dimensional characters - aggressors and potential victims. Still, it's a handsomely-mounted failure which may appeal to the more forgiving torture-porn obsessive.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|