Movie Review – Roadside (2015)

Roadside
Directed by Eric England
Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment
Release Date: April 14, 2015

roadside-eric-england-dvd

I have to confess upfront that I’m an automatic fan of filmmaker Eric England because he’s a native Arkansan. We southerners have to stick together, especially those of us who love the horror genre. So when I heard about ROADSIDE, watching it was a no-brainer. I’m glad I gave this one a shot, too. Although the film is not perfect, it’s still intense and entertaining.

If you are not familiar with ROADSIDE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of RLJ Entertainment:

Dan and Mindy Summers are on a road trip along a desolate mountain highway when Dan is forced to exit the SUV to remove a dead tree blocking their path. Before he can get back inside, he and Mindy find themselves held hostage on the side of the road, trapped in their car by a mysterious gunman. They must fight for their lives in a sadistic game of cat and mouse set against a backdrop of numbing cold, pitch darkness and raw terror. Dripping with suspense until the very last frame, Roadside “offers massive thrills and a unique concept reminiscent of the films of Hitchcock.”

There’s something about a lonely, desolate road in the mountains that just screams ‘horror’ to me. Thus, the situation and location setting for this film are perfect. Throw in a pregnant wife, and you’ve got the setup for a lot of emotional intensity.

ROADSIDE is shot well and looks like it has high production value. The production team does a great job of using minimalism onscreen to help create a horrifying atmosphere. Although most of the film takes place in a single stretch of forested road, the bleak locale serves as a perfect backdrop for the story.

The acting in ROADSIDE is very good as well, with Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman portraying the main characters. Both do a great job with their roles, and I look forward to seeing them in future projects. Actor Jack E. Curenton is also to be noted for his creepy and convincing portrayal of the gas station attendant.

But despite the fact I enjoyed it, the film has a glaring flaw that kept nagging me. Although the stranger has a gun on them, there’s still a lack of true danger in the air. I kept thinking, “This would be WAY MORE INTENSE if the guy was threatening to eat them or something.” Granted, getting shot is horrific…but not nearly as terrifying as being skinned alive or having your fingernails ripped off. I guess this is technically more of a thriller and less of a horror movie, so maybe I’m not being fair.

But still, ROADSIDE is a fun film and it does entertain. Fans of Hitchcockian thrillers should enjoy this one, however staunch horror fans might not. I recommend it, though, particularly if you are in the mood for something different. The film hits shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Housekeeping (2015)

Housekeeping
Directed by Jennifer Harrington
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: March 31, 2015

housekeeping

I absolutely love Lionsgate’s After Dark Original films. I’ve seen a slew of them, going back several years to the After Dark Horrorfest series. Although I’ve seen many of them, I can only recall two (out of the dozens I’ve watched) that I didn’t care for. HOUSEKEEPING is an After Dark title that certainly does not fit into that category. And while it’s not a perfect film, it’s very good, and I highly recommend giving it a shot.

If you are not familiar with HOUSEKEEPING, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

Lucy, a young med student in need of quick cash to help her troubled brother, reluctantly accepts the too-good-to-be-true position as a housekeeper offered to her through a friend of a friend. But things quickly take a disturbing turn. Her never-seen employer seems to have a dark side, and the job reveals itself to be anything but normal.

Director Jennifer Harrington should be commended for what she accomplishes with this film. There’s essentially only one character that we ever see, and she never talks. The dialogue we do get is from voicemails, and they are skillfully used to tell the story. I am very impressed with the originality of this concept, and I applaud Harrington for taking such a bold step.

HOUSEKEEPING is shot well for the most part, however there’s one complaint I have about the picture quality: the color correction. The film practically has none. The result is a dull picture with bland color that does nothing to help the story. This isn’t really a deal-breaker for me, but I feel it worth noting because it makes the film look cheap.

The acting is very good, with Adriana Solis portraying the main character, Lucy. Solis gives a mesmerizing performance, conveying a wide range of emotions with simply her body language. Despite the lack of dialogue, Solis convinces the audience to feel everything she feels, and in turn, offers viewers a deep immersion into the story.

There are practically no special effects in the film, but they aren’t needed. What wins the gold here is the story. I will not give anything away, but let’s just say a person’s past can catch up with them when they least expect it.

But although I enjoyed HOUSEKEEPING, and I am recommending it, the film does have a couple of flaws. I mentioned the color correction above, but I also have to mention the annoying voicemail beeps that precede each message. There are waaaaaay too many of them, and they blast loudly each time. I found myself having to adjust the level of my surround-sound each time they sprang up. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a nuisance, but the fact there are so many make it so.

Overall, however, HOUSEKEEPING is a great film, and I definitely suggest you give it a look. The film released earlier this week in a variety of formats.

MSB