Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
Thor
8.25 out of 10

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Road

Ghosted Regressions

Rated: R Some disturbing images, violence and terror
Release Date: May 11, 2012
Runtime:  1 hr 50 mins

Director: Yam Laranas
Writers: Yam Laranas, Aloy Adawan
Cast: Carmina Villaroel, Rhian Ramos, TJ Trinidad, Barbie Forteza, Lexi Fernandez, Derick Monasterio, Alden Richards, Louise de los Reyes, Renz Valerio


SYNOPSIS: When three teenagers on a joy ride are attacked on an old abandoned road, the police are left with new clues to a ten year old cold case of two missing sisters.

REVIEW: Yam Laranas, Philippines born writer and director of Patient X and Echo, returns with another creepy, suspenseful tale that takes place on and around an old abandoned gravel and dirt road. Reteaming with 
Patient X scribe Aloy Adlawan, Laranas chronicles a series of disappearances and grisly murders that spans over twenty years.


In the 2008 Prologue - Detective Luis Medina (TJ Trinidad) returns to his hometown as a decorated member of the police force. When three teens, Ella (Barbie Forteza), her brother Brian (Derick Monasterio) and his girlfriend and her friend Janine (Lexi Fernandez), on a joyride are attacked on an abandoned gravel and dirt road, the investigation sparks new clues for a cold case a decade earlier. In Story I: 2008 - On their joyride, Ella, Brian and Janine come face to face with a late model car that keeps passing them from behind on the one-way road, apparently without a driver, but with a bloody gauzed rear passenger. The kids discover a burned out wreckage, a forested house in disrepair, and bloody phantoms that seem to be out to get them. Story II: 1998 - Two sisters, Lara (Rhian Ramos) and Joy (Louise delos Reyes), drive down the still used gravel road on the way home from school when their car overheats and stalls. Asking a young shy man for water, Abet (Alden Richards) leads him to his home where he knocks out both of them and locks them up inside. Keeping Lara and Joy locked and chained in separate rooms, Abet terrorizes them both. Story III: 1988 - Young Abet (Renz Valerio) lives in the same house, newer and more well kept. His aggressive and adulterous mother Carmela (Carmina Villaroel) forbids Abet from both leaving the house or talking to sinful girls, often locking him in a wardrobe. His weak-willed father Alberto (Marvin Agustin) tries to spread the word of God to others in the area but fails to satisfy his wife or the debt on his mortgage. When a young girl Martha (Ynna Asistio) comes to do the laundry for the family, her coaxing of young Abet to come outside and play leads to pain and death.

Director Yam Laranas can do it all. Like a Filipino version of Robert Rodriguez, Laranas writes, shoots, lights, edits and produces his films. His 2004 ghost story Sigaw caught the attention of Vertigo Entertainment and was remade for American audiences with American actors entitled Echo, joining its other Asian horror invasion films including The Ring and The Grudge. In The Road, Laranas ventures into the gauzy world of malevolent ghosts and the violence they perpetuate. When speaking to Fangoria, the director talked about the fact that "...the film is about how ghosts beget other ghosts." Each act of violence and murder creates vengeful spirits that haunt the road to terrorize and create new ghosts which create their own new ghosts. As each generation of specter seeks out astral retribution, each set of victims attempts to break the cycle of violence that befalls them. And Laranas uses lace veiled or bag covered faces of the specters to add a new layer of creepiness to the characters.

Written and directed as part supernatural horror and part crime mystery, The Road spends equal time with scaring and building a psychological murder mystery. The three story chapters and prologue are told first from most recent and moves back in time. As each chapter fades to black with violence and blood, the next chapter title card takes us ten years further into the past. Each subsequent chapter builds more onto the mythology and the motivations of the terrors that have festered in the decade in between. As the blood dries and the years go by, the ghosts become more erratic, frustrated and angry, giving them the force to affect the living world. Also with each chapter, we get glimpses and clues to the murders that come before (or, actually after) and the reasons that the crimes occur in the first place. 


With Laranas' experience in cinematography before he ever became a director, The Road visually channels other films in the horror genre. When the ghosts of 1998 stand in the middle of the gravel road barring Brian, Janine, and Ella from escape, glimpses of Brian de Palma's Carrie creepily come to mind. And when a chained Lara lets out a silent scream as she hides from her captor, the recent single-shot Silent House comes to mind. The film is shot to best visual effect. In the first chapter, the trio of teenagers travel down the abandoned road with their vehicle's headlights splashing across the dirt trail and the tires crushing against the gravel, ramping up the anticipation and dread with each empty twist of the road

The Road divides its time between fear and findings. Coming in long for a horror film at almost 2 hours, much time is spent letting the audience accrue clues to the cold case from 1998, and to the motivations of serial killer from his 1988 youth. Movie-goers looking for the horrifying intensity from the trailers may be disappointed in the drawn out subtle plot filled with the origins of festering spirits and the birth of a killer.

With so many films that fall specifically into sub-genres of horror, The Road may lack the best of what it was trying to achieve. As part terror ride and slowly unfolding murder mystery, the vehicular horrors pale in comparison to the first half of Jeepers Creepers or Joyride, and the murder mystery is really just a story unfolding in reverse without the slick cool feel of Memento. There are great visually creepy and unnerving moments, and the story does come together in a subtle complete way, but for aficionados of horror The Road may be a dead end.

WORTH:  Rental

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