When it comes to directors, be it up-and-coming ones, or long-established ones that I discover rather late, I have a “three strikes”-policy. Which means that I usually give them three chances to convince me. If they fail me with all of those and show no real potential or improvement, the only way I’ll give said director another chance would be extremely favorable reviews of critics that I trust, and/or overwhelming word-of-mouth. One recent director who profited from this rule was Denis Villeneuve. I didn’t much care for “Prisoners” (even though his direction was the least of its problems) and had no use at all for “Enemy”. But “Sicario” was awesome, and “Arrival” seemed like a huge thank you note from him to me, since it was right up my alley. However, the three strikes-rule unfortunately doesn’t always pay off. Mickey Keating is living proof of that.
I hated “Pod”, but decided to give him two more chances with “Darling” and now “Carnage Park”. Granted, he again showed some minor improvement. Visually, the movie looks very nice (even though this seems to be mostly due to digital color grading in post-production), and Ashley Bell proves to be a good substitute for Lauren Ashley Carter not only in name, but also with her performance (although I found her to be way more impressive in the underrated “The Day”). Apart from that, however, it was his third movie that couldn’t convince me at all. Despite a short running time, it felt way too long. As a short film – and with a different director – it could have worked, but as it is, there (once again, not unlike “Pod” and especially “Darling”) simply isn’t enough story to fill not-even-quite-90 minutes. A problem that in this case might have even been apparent for Keating himself, since he includes a couple of flashbacks which felt totally unnecessary, and seemed to be only there to stretch the running time. There also were a couple of very clichéd and predictable moments, some stupid decisions and actions by the protagonists, and – worst of all – the typical, terrible eye- and ear-torture which for me became synonymous with the name “Mickey Keating”. Strike three – you’re out.