The Road is more than just a ghost story, as portrayed in the trailer. It is a horrific tale of mental and physical abuse and the consequences and results of such. This movie does a wonderful job of tugging the viewer back and forth, from present to past, from anger to sympathy for our antagonist, and back again.
The film is told in four parts. The beginning, in 2008, tells the story of three kids who take a joy ride and end up on a deserted private drive. The kids cannot find their way out and are followed by a car that appears to have no driver. The imagery and isolation created in these scenes make for an extremely creepy atmosphere. The kids then see a strange, slimy creature/person in the back seat of the car. The thing is burned, beaten, and bloody.
Sometimes I find ghost stories to be kind of hokey and corny, but this movie has cinematography that is both beautiful and haunting all at once. It is truly terrifying. There is one scene, of an unfocused woman in the distance, running towards the camera, coming up behind one of the kids. My eyes were locked tight on the scene, waiting to see what this slow motion image could be. Continuing in slow motion, and coming more into focus as she gets closer to the camera, the observer witnesses a wounded woman in a long, tattered dress with a blood-stained bag wrapped around her head. So disturbing.
While the first thirty minutes focuses on the children’s disappearances, part II takes place ten years earlier in 1998, uncovering the story of the two ghostly corpses that the kids saw in part I. A teenage boy helps two sisters, whose car has broken down. He takes them to the woods, where the present day disappearances happened, and attacks them. The girls awake in an abandoned house. He ties up the older sister and proceeds to beat/ punch in the face of the younger one. The pain inflicted on these two girls is very upsetting and violent. It really gets under your skin.
Part III is my favorite. The movie really ties together at this point. Back another ten years, to 1988. The teenage murderer is now a young boy. He is constantly berated and mentally broken down by his abusive mother, who locks him in a bureau when he misbehaves. Even with the premature death of his mother, the young boy cannot escape his mothers’ wrath. Either he is so psychologically affected by the abuse or he really sees his mothers’ ghost. It continues to get weirder and weirder, highlighting the most harrowing scenes in slow motion fashion, sure to leave you with haunting images that last forever.
At last, the film comes around full circle back to 2008. I can usually figure out a twist or ending to a film, but this one totally caught me by surprise! This is superb storytelling. If you are looking for an artistic horror movie with a little more depth, this movie satisfies- with a dark ending to boot- that pleasantly chilled me to the bone.
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