Filipino filmmaker Yam Laranas stands poised to make some significant noise in the world of filmmaking. His low budget The Road is the perfect example of a filmmaker whose talents have outstretched his available budgetary means. Though the film suffers from far too many technical and execution flaws, there’s enough good stuff in there to show, that given adequate resources, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the realm of horror filmmaking.
Following a brief prologue that displays the graphic suicide of a man sitting alone in a car on a seemingly abandoned lonely road, Laranas’ story unfurls backwards in three distinct sections, each a decade older than the previous, and each of better cinematic quality than the previous. The film starts out on shaky ground with both crude cinematic technique and stilted performances, but for some strange reason, it all gets noticeably better as the film progresses.
Beginning in 2008, an under-aged joyriding trio, trying to avoid a police roadblock, exits the main road and enters a dark and spooky private dirt road where they encounter strange happenings such as driverless cars and blood-soaked ghouls with plastic bags tied over their heads. This segment, the most poorly executed of the entire film, is wrought with barely passable acting and characters that behave in ways that make little sense. This is the point where the more impatient viewer gets up and exits the theater.
Flashing back another ten years to 1998, two young sisters disappear after their car breaks down in the middle of the day. They too, will face horror when seemingly rescued by a young stranger who offers them refuge in his house just off the beaten path. As one sister is chained to a bed, the other is savagely beaten to a pulp - both experience haunting visions that begin to tie into the horrific events that unfolded a decade later.
The third segment, which takes place in 1988, goes a bit further in tying together the ghostly tale and how the snaking mystery relates to what’s going on in present time. We learn of a young boy who is tormented by his abusive, psychotic mother (Carmina Villarroel) – a la Norman Bates - and complacent father (Marvin Agustin) who both harbor an unhealthy penchant for butchering anyone who steps foot upon their property. Religious zealotry, supernatural forces, and a locked closet come together quite nicely in a segment that puts together the missing pieces of the puzzle, including a twist most will see coming well before it actually does, and is far and away, the best of the entire film.
Laranas never shies away from blood and guts, and isn’t afraid to stick the camera in the face of a shrieking actor to show true fright and terror. But fewer overly-repetitive shots, especially the countless minutes of the headlight-lit titular stretch of blacktop, would go a long way in the betterment of the film. Laranas is clearly trying to create a brooding sense of sinister atmosphere from what we can’t see, but it doesn’t work. Too, cheap special effects and numerous cost-cutting measures undo any of the film’s successes.
The Road‘s most successful moments come from Laranas’ camera- techniques that often capture a melancholy fabric of lonely roads, moonlit woods, and dilapidated houses. A well-executed opening title sequence also effectively sets up the spooky tale co-written Aloy Adlawan. But numerous technical problems, as well as countless storytelling flaws, hobble the film to the point of non-recovery. Give this guy a bigger budget and a team of more well-heeled technicians and let’s see what he can do. With The Road, he’s so close, yet, so far.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, terror and some disturbing images.
Director: Yam Laranas
Writer: Yam Laranas & Aloy Adlawan
Cast: Carmina Villaroel, Rhian Ramos and TJ Trinidad
Tagline: Nobody leaves the road.
Memorable Movie Quote: ""
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Official Site: nobodyleavestheroad.com
Release Date: May 11, 2012 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available
Synopsis: A 12 year old cold case is reopened when three teens are missing in an old abandoned road where a gruesome murder is left undiscovered for three decades.
No details available.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)