Sunday, July 04, 2010

Road Kill and Mystery: A Movie Review

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Road Kill Movie Poster

Director: Dean Francis.

Writer: Clive Hopkins.

Vehicles have been a part of horror cinema in many shapes and forms since Stephen King's Christine, and Maximum Overdrive in the '80's; the genre was explored earlier in 1971 with Steven Spielberg's first feature film the Duel (Prone). Now, Australia gets in to the vehicular mayhem with a Lightning Entertainment release entitled Road Train, or for North American fans Road Kill. Road Kill is currently vying for a Fangoria Frightfest theatrical release with Blockbuster distributing the film on video-on-demand August 6th. The film builds intensity through the inclusion of a double and even triple threat, as the barren land, murderous characters, and a possessed semi-truck hinder the characters hold on life. The mystery of what motivates the eighteen wheeler is what will hook most audiences, with a tacked on ending offering some late confusion.

Clive Hopkins' story centers on two couples who travel out in to the Australian outback for some camping fun and good times. Character Craig (Bob Morley) decides to make the trip more interesting by antagonizing a large semi-truck, which leaves him and his mates: Marcus (Xavier Samuel), Nina (Sophie Lowe) and Liz (Georgina Haig) in a brutal wreck. Things take a change to the surreal when this same large vehicle shows itself to be fueled by a less viscous substance than normal black oil.

Road Kill Photo: Liz, Marcus, Nina and Craig.

The writing allows for some grotesque kills, multi-layered conflicted interactions involving infidelity and a curse whose origins are not revealed. One of the most brutal decapitations in horror film is delivered in Road Kill and the final resting point for some of the characters is very bloody. As well, the addition of a sub-plot revolving around sexual relations creates tension between not only the two male leads, but between the couple Marcus and Liz. However, what truly sets this picture apart from others is the unknowing quality of the scriptwriting. What will the rig do next? Who is under the rig's control, and who is not? What is in that back hatch? These questions will keep most viewers glued to the screen until a partial reveal in the last thirty minutes of the film.

A crazed trigger happy man will also add in some thrills early and the beautiful Australian cinematography shows a dusty landscape than can be a killer. Centrally, however, Road Kill is about a group of young friends against the mind altering supernatural. Unfortunately for the characters, these spirits are not in the story to help and instead transform at least one of the characters in to a more murderous version of his previous self. How the vehicle does this is not revealed. Yet, one thing is certain, the demonic curses are not easily overcome, or stopped, as one semi' keeps on truckin' through desert roadways and in to unlucky motorists late in to the picture.

Road Kill has one drawback that seems to stand-out and this is a somewhat meandering ending. The film maintains a quick pace in to the sixty to seventy minute mark, but then seems to unhinge itself near the final twenty. The story seems to be searching for some type of way to end the picture without a clear result. Instead, characters face each other awkwardly in a continuous test of survival. Road Kill could really use a director's cut to strengthen some of the final scenes, which seem befuddling at times.

Yet, Road Kill is mostly an enjoyable time spent within the horrifying sub-genre of vehicle massacres and spiritual or external possession. If you are interested in this film and what to see the picture on the big screen vote for Road Kill at the Fright Fest contest below. Otherwise, Lightning Entertainment will be releasing this feature through video-on-demand exclusively through Blockbuster for fourty-five days before this title becomes available for purchase. Do not let this title drive past without at least a glance.

Plot/story/writing: 6.5 (characters are multi-dimensional, but there is no back story for any of them, also where did the curse originate?).
Pacing/continuity/editing: 6.25 (the film loses some traction in the final act, pacing is good through 2/3).
Photography/composition/lighting: 7.5 (the shooting of the Australian landscapes are simply stellar, well lit, what looks like high quality digital).

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

Vote for the film's trailer at Fangoria's Fright Fest:

Road Kill at Fright Fest

A review of the film at Horror View:

Road Kill Reviewed at Horror View

And at Upcoming Horror Movies:

Road Kill Reviewed at the UHM

And an in-depth, well written review at Pronet Works:

Road Kill Reviewed at Pronet

Road Train/Road Kill at Lightning Entertainment w/trailer:

Road Kill at Lightning Entertainment

The Road Kill Official Website:

Road Kill's Homepage

Road Kill on Facebook:

Road Kill on FB


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