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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THE ROAD (2011)

Not the rather draggy and dull experiment in apocalyptic storytelling starring Viggo Mortenson that came out in 2009, but is instead the absolutely terrifying new film from the Philippines directed by Yam Laranas and co-written by him with Aloy Adlawan.  It’s a movie that forgoes graphic violence and the alphabet soup of in your face CGI SFX, instead relying on the somewhat old fashioned values of angst filled mood, clever editing and unnerving cinematography to earn its scares.  With this, The Road falls squarely with such recent examples of the genre as Let the Right One In and The Innkeepers.  There’s this road, you see.  And bad things seem to happen to people who go down it.  And one night, on a whim, three young teens take a parent’s car out to practice their driving—you know, without telling anyone and when everyone’s asleep.  (There’s got to be a lesson in their somewhere, but I wouldn’t go to Robert Frost for it.)  In order to avoid the police, they break down a barrier and go down an unused road.  You know, THE road.  Where bad things seem to happen to people.  And sure enough, bad things happen to these three as they encounter such phenomena as cars with no drivers; bloody bodies with bags over their heads; and the complete inability to make their way back to the main thoroughfare.  The story jumps back and forth in time, first ten years, then twenty, until all the various puzzle pieces fit together and a complete picture as to what is going on is revealed.  Well, all the pieces perhaps save one.  What Laranas and Adlawan don’t do an effective job of is coming up with a plausible explanation as to why this road, which seemed to be well traveled in times earlier, is now boarded up and unused—even though the entrance is in the middle of the town.  There’s also a twist near the end that is clever, though perhaps not as satisfying or as plausible as one might want.  But be any of that as it may, it’s still an edge of your seat shocker and highly recommended.

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