There are some who believe Mickey Keating to be one of our most talented up-and-coming directors. He is certainly among the most prolific. Last year saw the release of his third film, the monster movie Pod, and he is set to debut his fourth, the early Polanski-homaging haunted house tale Darling, later in 2016. But that’s not all. Keating, who is still just 25, has already finished his next project, the action-thriller Carnage Park, which is receiving its world premiere at the Sundance Festival on Tuesday. Set in the late ’70s, the film concerns two bank-robbers and their hostage who find themselves in the sights of a psychotic ex-military sniper.
“Carnage Park is my total love letter to Peckinpah, and Deliverance, and ’70s survival movies,” he says. “It’s set in 1978 and it’s a crime story [which] turns into a fight for survival. It’s hard to categorize in a way, because it’s an energetic crime movie that goes horribly horribly awry. I think it’s going to be something different for people.”
The film’s cast includes Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism), Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills), Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), James Landry Hébert (Looper), Darby Stanchfield (Scandal), and horror director Larry Fessenden. “I’m such a huge fan of The Last Exorcism, and Ashley was my first choice [for the lead] — my only choice,” he says. “Fortunately, she said, ‘Yes.’”
Prior to the start of shooting, Keating told one interviewer that his ambition was to make a “very, very, very violent movie.” Did he succeed? “It’s very much everything we set out to do,” he says. “But we definitely didn’t want to make something which is strictly about the violence. It was really important to me, first and foremost, to establish the characters. This movie is about the people as opposed to just the extreme circumstances they inhabit.”
Keating is currently prepping his next film, which he hopes to start shooting in the next few months. “It’s going to be a sprawling, ensemble serial killers movie,” he explains.
Does he ever take a vacation? “No, man,” he laughs. “It’s funny, it’s like [making films] is my vacation. It’s all the stuff in between that feels like work. Trying to get a movie going, trying to figure out whether things will fall into place, whether anyone’s going to return your phone call. That to me is work. When I’m making movies, I’m just in utter bliss.”
You can see an exclusive clip of Ashley Bell in Carnage Park, above.