George A. Romero may have moved on to the next life, but much like his zombie creations, his legacy continues to live on with the latest long-lost film to resurface from his past, The Amusement Park.
The film that was recently discovered by his wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero once served as a PSA for an organization that shared similarities to Meals on Wheels (before they existed). But the organization that hired Romero was clearly unprepared for the man’s brilliance.
And now, after all these years, the short film that George A. Romero spoke very little of is finally hitting a streaming platform.
Should you stream The Amusement Park on Shudder? Here is our review of George A. Romero’s rediscovered film.
The Amusement Park review
The short movie begins and ends much like a standard PSA. At the forefront of The Amusement Park is actor Lincoln Maazel, who also starred in Romero’s underrated classic, Martin. Maazel sets up the haunting message and conveys to the audience what the viewer is about to endure. He ends the setup by expressing hope that the viewer will be inspired to pursue a call-to-action in helping the elderly after witnessing the film.
Immediately after, we are introduced to The Amusement Park hell Maazel’s nameless character is about to suffer.
He is in a white room, and there sits an alternate version of himself – beaten and very emotionally devastated. The unbroken version of Maazel has no idea this man is himself, and despite the warning from the broken man, the unharmed version of himself is optimistic about leaving the white room and enjoying a day at the amusement park waiting outside.
And as he leaves the white room, the unharmed man opens the door to a very chaotic park. From here, The Amusement Park is not quite interested in being a straightforward narrative or aiming for realism.
Romero made everything intentionally abstract to enhance the confusing mindset of his elderly protagonist. Furthermore, situations are exaggerated in order to establish deeper meaning in the commentary.
Throughout The Amusement Park, viewers may see the influence Romero had on directors like Jordan Peele. Several scenes will remind streamers of moments from Us, such as the escalator that only goes down during the film’s finale. It’s impractical, but the point was to depict the lower class having an impossible path to climb out of their position in life.
The same can be said with this work of art. The amusement park Maazel is trapped in makes zero sense on the surface. But the amusement park is overwhelming to the elderly man. No one wants to sit with him on the coaster, he has to meet certain requirements to access some attractions because of his age, and he can barely afford tickets to some experiences because of his low income.
The more he tries to have a normal day at the park, the more the scenarios become dream-like and nightmarish. He sees people his age being harassed, mistreated, and treated like second-class citizens. As this escalates, there is a clear correlation that Romero was trying to give the viewer a sense of dementia as things get lonelier for Maazel and he grows more confused about what is real.
And Maazel sells every minute of it with perfection.
For a 52-minute movie that was meant to be a PSA to raise awareness on the hardships of growing older, this thing is a masterpiece.
Most critics have labeled the film “scary,” and while this is true, it’s also heartbreaking. On top of this, Romero made it with such empathy for his subject.
It’s directed like a love letter to someone he loved that suffered similarly. In this way, all the small touches feel authentic as the rollercoaster of the elderly man’s psyche unravels.
With that said, those who are still grieving the loss of someone through any form of elderly decline may want to proceed with caution. The authenticity of the struggle might be triggering for some viewers who are still moving on from the recent mental decline of a loved one.
But for fans of Romero, The Amusement Park is an absolute must-see for those who appreciated his genius.
Should you stream The Amusement Park on Shudder?
George A. Romero might be the brilliant man who gave the world the modern zombie, but he was much more than that. This writer can exclaim all day about other works such as Martin and his ability to create thought-provoking horror beyond the living dead.
The Amusement Park is further proof of Romero’s brilliance as a director. The movie might have been intended as a PSA, but the result feels like a film of the same caliber as psychological horror from Darren Aronofsky.
Every single George Romero fan should see this forgotten masterpiece from one of the most iconic men in horror.
The Amusement Park is now streaming on Shudder.