FilmSlashTV: ‘The Road’ is spooky
REVIEW BY BURL BURLINGAME / firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who’s traveled on the Old Pali Road late at night — before they put in all those annoying streetlights — or down the dank tunnel of Swamp Road along Kawainui Marsh knows about spooky. The trees lean in, branches like fingers hurtling out of the gloom as they’re caught in the headlights, the road curls ever on, never seeming to end, vanishing behind your vehicle. There seems to be nothing at all beyond the headlights, a vast, unknowable void, containing … God knows what.
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That’s just the sort of road three Filipino teenagers wind up on one night when they’re out for a joyride. They drive and drive, and suddenly they’re passed by a car. And a few minutes later, passed by the same car. How did it get behind them? And when it passes by again, they look in, and there’s no driver.
Spooked yet? Yam Laranas’ scary and effective horror movie, “The Road,” delivers plenty of ice-to-the-spane shiverlings, and in many ways, it’s a very traditional ghost story. Or is it? Because there’s not just scary stuff, there’s a mystery to the story that requires some detective work for the audience. There’s an arc spanning several years, and a neat twist at the end that may surprise many. It’s the sort of movie that M. Night Shyamalan could have done (and should have kept making!) at the apex of his career.
The filmmaker here is Yam Laranas, a Manila-based cinematographer, writer and director. “The Road” is one of the first mainstream Filipino films to play wide in the U.S., and his earlier film “The Echo” was so successful that he remade it in English a few years ago.
“The Road” shows that he knows exactly what he’s doing. In this case, it’s providing enough rattling thrills for the date-night crowd, and enough story and character for older film buffs to chew on. The ride home afterwards might require your high beams.
Burl Burlingame writes about film and television for the Pulse. Follow him on Twitter.