What is this? I think we have something special on our hands here. Just in case you didn’t think the After Dark Horrorfest pumped out enough sub-standard, shitty flicks along comes the Fangoria FrightFest to throw it’s hat into the ring. This label is of course associated with Fangoria magazine, which has dominated the genre magazine scene for decades. So why, please tell me, would they risk tarnishing their reputation by starting a label that promotes some truly bad films? (Yes this is the first film I’m actually reviewing from this label, but I’ve already seen all the films from it’s 2010 lineup.)
This brings us to ROAD KILL, an Australian film that makes this all the more disappointing. Australia has put out some truly scary and solid horror films like WOLF CREEK (2005), ROGUE (2007), and THE LOVED ONES (2009). So why choose ROAD KILL for this label’s 2010 lineup? Four pretty stupid twenty-somethings playing teenagers (of course) hit the road for a vacation. And like all Australian vacations they decide to go out to the most remote parts of Australia’s Outback (I think all Australian travel agents need to be kicked in the balls or in the box). The “teens” are Marcus (Xavier Samuel, star of the amazing THE LOVED ONES), Craig (Bob Morley), Liz (Georgina Haig), and Nina (Sophie Lowe). There’s tension among the group, two of them used to date/screw but broke up and the other couple is estranged from each other, which immediately has you thinking, “Why the fuck did these two couples even wanna go on vacation together?”
While traveling on a (of course) extremely remote stretch of road, a road train (the original title of the film) comes barreling behind them and passes their car. A “road train” is a tractor trailer pulling two freight cars. Craig, a rather douchy guy, takes it as a personal insult that the road train passed them so he speeds up and cuts in front of the truck. The truck then smashes into the back of the car sending it tumbling asshole over tea kettle. They all emerge from the car pretty much unharmed except for the douchy guy Craig. He has a nice old compound leg fracture that’ll have you grabbing your own leg in pain. So the estranged couple start walking(???) down the very remote road looking for help when they stumble upon the very truck that caused the accident. After checking out the truck they realize it has been abandoned so they pick up the injured douchy dude and his girlfriend and steal the truck.
Soon after stealing it, odd things begin to happen to the twenty-somethings … I mean teens. It seems as though the truck is possessing them or at the very least altering their moods and behaviors. Marcus is driving, zones out (due to the truck) and they all awaken on an even more remote dead end road that they’re trapped on (it’s a really narrow road and there’s not enough room to back up the road train). At this point the film becomes one of “those films” that seems to be searching for some kind of explanation to give the viewer some kind of closure to the events going on. It literally feels as though the writer (Clive Hopkins) came up with the idea of a “haunted truck” terrorizing kids and then director Dean Francis started filming it before reading the entire script. It seems they’re both making up the story as they go on.
Unfortunately for us the explanation they decide on is lamer than Christopher Reeves in a marathon. Each teen (I’ll just give-in and call them “teens”) becomes affected by the truck. Craig’s horrible compound fracture mysteriously heals and Marcus becomes more and more of an asshole to his girlfriend (going so far as to abandon her on the remote stretch of road). But we keep getting hints that the truck is hauling something mysterious, suspicious, and maybe even a little supernatural. The cargo bins are pad locked but not surprisingly they open whenever there’s only one character near it. It’s kinda like the WB frog that only sings and dances when there’s only one person around.
So for the better part of 90 minutes we have to endure some truly lame cat and mouse games as Craig stalks and kills the others. Or is it the real owner of the road train? Or is it something from the truck’s cargo? Or is it … who cares!!! Trust me; you won’t care. With dialogue like, “You didn’t take the truck, the truck took you” you’ll wanna swallow a bullet. Sure ROAD KILL is full of laugh-inducing lines like this one, but the problem is this isn’t a comedy!! And just in case you’re crazy like I am and wanna know what’s in the cargo, I’m gonna save you the trouble of watching this one: [SPOILERS FOLLOW] The truck is indeed possessing the teens, but the real explanation here is that the truck runs on human blood and the truck’s entire cargo is a blood processing plant that grinds up people and funnels the blood into the gas tank. [END SPOILER] Yeah; I wish I was joking. This “reveal” does absolutely nothing to explain what has been occurring in the film prior to it (like why does the camera keep focusing on the truck’s hood ornament of the three-headed wolf?). The final act of the film completely falls apart making the first few acts a huge waste of time.
There’s a new “sheriff” in town folks and it’s called “Fangoria FrightFest”. This is the first film of the 2010 lineup that I watched (I have seen all of them) and if this is any indication of future lineups then After Dark is gonna have a run for its money. Forgettable performances, a ridiculously silly plot, horrible dialogue, and more insulting plot holes than is forgivable for any one film makes this one a film to put on your “avoid at all costs” list. Now all we need is Rue Morgue magazine to sponsor a yearly shitty horror film festival to complete the hat trick. Not recommended at all!!
Director: Dead Francis
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer