The Road… to nowhere

I was pretty excited going into the cinema to see critically acclaimed horror director Yam Laranas’s latest offering. Laranas is one of the more successful horror filmmakers in the country especially with his experience directing a Hollywood cast in the US version of the movie he wrote and directed entitled Sigaw (The Echo) starring Jesse Bradley. Leaving the cinema, however, I was more confused than impressed about the movie which seemed to take hours to set up with no remarkable outcome.

The Road had a lot going for it — a decent cast, a great director and even Swedish musical scorer Johan Soderqvist who did the background music for Let the Right One In. However, the pace of the opening credits alone should have been an indication of what was in store. A slow paced and misguided horror (?) movie whose plot was a combination of several psychological thrillers and supernatural suspense released in the market in previous years.

The movie was divided into three parts, which unfolds with every chapter. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the events were presented backwards, seeming to peel layer after layer before the eventual reveal in the finale. The first part takes place in 2008 where three teenagers traverse an old and abandoned road closed to traffic and find themselves being chased by supernatural entities (two women with plastic bags over their heads). This first part was pretty much what one would expect given the title and the tagline Nobody Leaves. However, as the story progresses, in the second chapter, set in 1998, the premise of the road was abandoned to focus on the backstory of the two ghosts from part 1 and the serial killer who victimized them. The road was still present but was hardly the focal point of the chapter. There was some excellent acting by the young stars, but it got kind of tedious as it took too long to execute when the ending was already revealed in the first chapter. The third chapter, which takes place ten years prior to Chapter 2 deals with the childhood of the killer (abusive parents who are both loony in their own right) and why he hates women. This does not really come as a huge surprise because half of the movies involving serial killers nowadays have abuse in the backstory one way or the other. So the only thing left to do is figure out who the killer is.

The problem with the movie in general is its blown up sense of importance. It tries to be smart in keeping the details until the very end so that the audience will not be able to figure out who the killer is until all three chapters have been concluded. And while the camera shots and angles were excellent, in typical Laranas style, the director seemed to have forgotten that there are other elements to horror that should keep the audience interested, and that is pacing and a steady story progression.

The problem with the presentation for this movie was the very real departure from the original idea which was the things that happened on the road, not the house where the murders took place. The supernatural elements also failed to reach out to the audience because it was also unclear what they wanted, just where they were and what happened to them. The killer’s departure from his MO in the beginning when the victimized a guy, and what was with the ten year intervals between each significant event were also questions that the movie failed to answer. The lack of audience involvement in the cinema (nobody even screamed) was, in my opinion a sign that they were a. growing more confused; or b. getting sleepy or c. couldn’t care less. The film, in my humble opinion, could have benefited from editing out repetitive scenes that served only to lengthen the movie and did nothing for its overall impact.

All in all, The Road was one major disappointment, and only proves the saying that too much of a good thing (even though the cinematography was perfect) could be bad.

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