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.