31 Days of Reviews: The Road (2011)

A group of teenagers goes missing on a secluded stretch of road, and their disappearance is strikingly similar to a cold case from 10 years ago.

The synopsis given for this movie is very slim. I’m sticking with the synopsis for how the film is promoted even though I don’t feel like it’s an accurate description of the movie.

I came across this movie on Netflix, as with most of the other seemingly random movies that I watch and review. It’s a Filipino film, directed by Yam Laranas. I didn’t recognize this name personally, but this director is known for his previous film Sigaw and its American remake The Echo. This particular movie, The Road, is spoken in Tagalog with English subtitles. It’s a pretty long movie, sitting at almost 2 hours. Normally I don’t have much of a problem with that if it’s a compelling story, but there are definitely moments in The Road that drag on.

The first full thing that viewers are introduced to in this movie is our presumed protagonist, Luis Medina (TJ Trinidad). He’s a rookie cop, earning a medal of valor only 2 months into his career despite an apparent disregard for police protocol. After the award ceremony, Ms. Luna arrives at the department, requesting information about her daughters who have been missing for over 10 years. Rather than avoid her, like all the other officers do, Luis responds to her questions and says that he’ll take a look at the case file for her, much to the dismay of some of his colleagues for giving the woman “false hope”

At this point, I thought I knew where the story was going. I was very very very wrong. That doesn’t usually happen to me, so I was pleasantly surprised in the end to see that I wasn’t correct. At the same time, the way that the story did go didn’t make sense to me as much as it was intended to.

The next story we’re introduced to is that of Ella (Barbie Forteza), her cousin Janine (Lexi Fernandez), and Janine’s boyfriend Brian (Derrick Monasterio). The three of them decide to sneak out at night and steal Janine’s mom’s car in order to teach Janine how to drive for her upcoming test. When they see a police car, they panic due to not having licenses, and attempt a U-turn only to find a seemingly perfect stretch of abandoned road. Sounds perfect for driving lessons! Things start getting scary though when a red car passes them repeatedly, and they start seeing the same tree over and over. The three get lost, separated, see some frightening ghosts, and have no means of escape.

This scene had the most potential to be frightening in the sense that most Asian horror films are frightening. While it had the makings for a scary scene, I thought it was actually quite tame for the most part. There were a couple of instances where I saw something I thought was terrifying, including an instance where the teens are walking, and this ghost is silently running up behind them from the background. That was freaking me out. There are some other parts which also seem over-the-top ridiculous.

By this time in the story, the format comes out. What I mean by that is that the story is split into three parts, which are conveniently spelled out for you on the screen. Part one is what we’ve been watching, set in 2008. Part two comes about a third of the way into the movie, and it actually says on the screen “Part II – 1998.” This sets the movie up almost as an anthology, and I’m usually not a big fan of that in movies that aren’t actually anthologies. My biggest problem with this was that with each part (because there is still a “Part III”) things get more complicated. Each part is an attempt to explain the one before it, so part one is the three teenagers in 2008, and part two is the story of Lara Luna (Rhian Ramos) and Joy Luna (Louise delos Reyes) who go missing on the same road in 1998. In retrospect, this makes the first part less scary because we now know who the ghosts are.

Personally, I felt that part two was pretty terrifying, albeit long and drawn out. While part one is definitely more supernatural, part two is all too realistic with the girls being tortured by an actual person. I suppose terrifying is the wrong word to describe it. Disturbing would probably be more fitting. After part two, we’re introduced to “Part III – 1988,” which attempts to explain why their killer is so ruthless. This was my least favorite part. It tried too hard to create sympathy for the killer with its abuse spawns more abuse storyline. That being said, this part is also disturbing in its own way.

In the end, all three parts converge together to reveal that everything is connected! While in some ways this makes everything make sense, I was still left with a lot of questions. This movie is definitely a psychological horror movie, and normally I like those, but this one just doesn’t sit right with me. The movie shoves in a sort of twist ending, and I felt like that was where all the problems came from. It would have made more sense to me had the movie gone in a different direction with its end game.

There aren’t too many fabulous camera shots in the movie, although the framing is pretty decent. I had a problem with the lingering out of focus shots. They seemed too long, and I started being annoyed with them. Just let me see it! The editing isn’t anything too spectacular. It’s pretty average. I felt that it ran a little long, and that’s definitely saying something coming from me since I like the more slower pacing stuff. Some things probably could have been left out on the cutting room floor.

Overall, I wasn’t entirely impressed with this movie. I am in the minority though because most of the reviews on the internet are decently positive about The Road. Unfortunately, I found the movie on Netflix, and it is slated to be leaving Netflix on November 9th, 2015, so if you are interested in seeing this movie, it’ll only be there for a limited time.

Although I’m not directly recommending the movie, I will still be including the trailer so you can make your own judgements. Check it out below!


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