Movie Review - Roadside
Writer-director Eric England's 2013 film Roadside is a major departure from any of his previous work that feels like an inventive homage to the classic films of Alfred Hitchcock. Featuring spectacular performances by the leading actors and a completely captivating narrative, Roadside is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that keeps you guessing until the vey last frame of the movie. It is a tightly wound game of cat-and-mouse that demonstrates Eric England's versatility as both a writer and director. Recently released on iTunes, this film is absolutely worthy of your time.
It's Christmas Eve, and Dan Summers and his pregnant wife Mindy are on a road trip to visit Dan's relatives to celebrate the holiday. After an encounter on the road with an insanely aggressive driver, the couple stop at a small gas station where they meet a friendly shop keeper, a local police officer, and the same asshole driver that nearly ran them off the road. But they avoid a confrontation and get back out on the road. A short time later, the couple comes upon a downed branch blocking the road. But when Dan gets out to clear the way, a voice calls out to him. And he is suddenly made aware of the fact that someone is watching them, out there in the woods... with a gun pointed right at them. Now he is left with no choice but to play along with his sick and twisted game.
It's no secret that I am a fan of Eric's work, I love Contracted so much that I ranked it in my top films of 2013, and he was even one of my first interviews for this site. But Roadside is an entirely kind of film altogether. It is truly remarkable to be able to build suspense so masterfully using such a minimal set and cast. The film isn't entirely unlike Eugenio Mira's stunning Grand Piano, though it is able to achieve similar results using much less. And even though it is a taut and carefully planned thriller, the audience is made to feel that anything can happen at anytime. Even the quality of the film has a bit of grittiness to it that adds some dynamics to the visual texture. And even though the film consists of roughly ninety percent dialogue, it feels action packed. Finally the cast was superb. Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman have an amazing onscreen chemistry that makes the relationship feel incredibly real, and Jack E. Curenton is charming as the affable attendant at the roadside convenience store. This is a meticulously crafted piece of film making with a talented cast and gripping narrative, Roadside is now available on iTunes and is highly recommended.
- Leo Francis