Monday, March 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Road (2011)

The Road (2011) is not a Cormac McCarthy-based film about a post-apocalyptic world, but a wretched, miserable experience which causes me pain even to acknowledge that it even exists. I really can’t even tell you how bad this is and really convey it in full like actually watching it – there is too much horrendousness in this thing to do that; like a possession-ridden whore in a Satanic horror film. But unlike The Devil Inside, for example, this isn’t only stupid and pointless, but also relentlessly unpleasant, making the viewers feel ungodly depressed and making them want to kill themselves. Isn’t that just the goal of any successful film? If you said yes…well, what you’re thinking of is probably much different than the vomited-up hack work found in this film.

Director: Yam Laranas
Starring: TJ Trinidad, Carmina Villaroel

So the movie begins with a suicide…don’t all great movies? Isn’t that the best way to introduce a film that you can think of?

I’m serious, right from the start; a suicide. That’s the opening shot (ha ha…ha). Way to set the bar high, movie! We also see some shots of roads, which is the closest we’ll get to the title of the movie in this whole thing, so I guess we’ve already seen everything worthwhile it has to offer. Just turn it off now, and you’ll walk away with your sanity much more intact.

Oh, but of course! If I did that, we wouldn’t have a review. So I guess I’ll persevere. We next get introduced to a super-cool cop guy named Luis, who is getting a medal for all of his accomplishments, none of which will be shown or talked about in any kind of detail. So glad this part was in the movie! He gets pulled aside by a grief-stricken woman asking if they have found her missing daughters yet, to which he tells her they are still looking. Best cop ever, or best cop ever? I say the latter.

We then cut to a couple of kids who can’t be more than fifteen. They’re going out driving to teach the one girl how to drive in time for her test tomorrow. Guess it’s good they’re doing that then…what? You don’t wait until the night before your driving exam to even practice driving? You nerd!

So being that they’re not all that experienced, and it’s the middle of the night, you’d think they would just stick to a place they all know pretty well, right? Not these kids! They go out and find a creepy deserted road in the middle of nowhere that clearly none of them is very familiar with. What a bunch of dumbasses. I sure hope they don’t run into the Jeepers Creepers monster on this road:

There’s also a ton of dialogue about how the boy apparently cheated on the girl by kissing some other girl. Dude, these kids are like fourteen or fifteen! How do they have this level of drama already? I guess this kid is growing up to be Josh Hartnett in The Black Dahlia. Christ…that’s all we need. More of that movie. Frankly, with the way this is going, I’m expecting one of the girls to kill him off and then sleep with his best friend, totally out of nowhere and without logic. Ugh.

But no, what happens in this movie is far worse actually, as we see these kids getting spooked out of their right minds in scenes that wouldn’t have even made it as bloopers in a movie like Dead End. They see some ghosts here and there, scream a lot, and keep on driving down the road and looking for the scary stuff anyway – isn’t that kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

"Hey, I think they have some great outtakes from Shutter on this road!"

I’ll give credit that one of the girls actually does call her father and ask him to come get them – that’s smarter than most characters in movies like this. But it just comes down to, really, this is hideously unnecessary. What did these kids do to deserve what they get here? Yes, terrible things happen to innocent kids all the time in real life. But, for one, this isn’t real life, because there are all kinds of supernatural things going on. And two, this is a movie, and it doesn’t have to just relentlessly depict the realistic world without any dramatization. There can be catharsis for these horrible things; there can be rights to balance out the wrongs. There are well done examples of how to depict the harsh cruelty of the world, but this movie isn’t one of them. The effect here is not dramatic, not shocking, but just incredibly unpleasant and needlessly grotesque.

At first I thought, well, okay, so they’re showing these horrific deaths and the rest of the movie will be about Luis the super cop trying to solve what happened, right? No, actually not. Actually, this is the last damn time we really see anything to do with these characters for a long, long time in the film, and the last time ever that the story is solely focused on them. You unholy abomination of ass.

No, what we actually get is a sort of collection of stories, going back ten years each time chronologically. Like Memento if it was written by a depressed Hannibal Lector. The next story we get is set in the late 90s, where two young girls are driving along the road talking about boys – because, you know, girls have nothing else going on in their lives ever besides boys. Their car breaks down and they are approached by a silent young man who tells them he can help them. Instead of doing the smart thing and just waiting at the car while telling him to go get his supplies by himself, like idiots they just follow him through the dark, isolated woods to a place where nobody knows they are. Is it any bit a surprise when he knocks them out and kidnaps them in his big, dark house?

Are you loving the color scheme yet? Either it's blinding contrasting oranges, browns and greens or grim and dark like the inside of a septic tank after a year abandoned.

The next twenty minutes or so is nothing but dark, grimy walls and the two sweet, innocent girls who did nothing wrong crying and in pain. It would be one thing if we got more character development, if the film took time to set up some atmosphere or even just tell the very basics of a real narrative, but no; it’s just that. There aren’t any real scares and there is really no point to anything going on beyond showing us how screwed up this kid is.

Like this scene – he keeps the younger girl locked in a closet and then drags her downstairs, tied up and crying her eyes out, so he can beat the shit out of her, throw her head against a wall, and, it is implied, rape her afterwards. Real nice, movie!

What? What point does this death serve to the story? What does it establish beyond 'HUR HUR HEY HE'S A SUPER COOL SERIAL KILLER, GUYS!'? Go to hell you despicable piece of shit movie.

I am so glad you showed us this scene, for really, what would our lives have been without seeing this horrific abomination against human decency? I am simply blown away by how brutal and shocking this all is, because truly that is what makes a good horror film, and not atmosphere, tension or build-up. Please, keep the unpleasantness coming!

Oh, like this scene, where the other girl makes her way outside and finds her friend/sister/whatever she was dead, bloody and tied up in a hole in the ground, even falling down right next to her face. Aren’t scenes like this just the bread and butter of modern horror? The very foundations on which to build the next logical progression of the genre?

Maybe they did something to deserve this in a past life...? Nah, trying to rationalize this unsalvageable crap in any way is just pointless. It's still crap.

Yup, and that’s the end of the story! Misery, torment and hell for these girls who did nothing to anyone in their entire lives! Isn't that great? Onto the next raping of our senses with needless violence with no purpose!

Yes, the next story is about that kid when he was a child. If you were among the very small percentile of viewers who wondered why he locked that girl in a closet in the last segment, this one will explain it. Apparently when he was a kid, his mom would lock him in the closet for hours just because some chick outside talked to him for a minute. Does that make sense? No? Well tough. It’s all we’re gonna get.

Look at that expression on her goddamn face. How perfectly horrible. Like she's permanently smelling a manure truck all the time.

That’s another problem with this film…it’s just so simplistic and banal that there really isn’t much to gain from all the shit they’re throwing at us. All we get is explanations for stuff that happened in the other scenes, like, why do all the ghosts appear with sheets wrapped around their heads? Why does he lock girls in closets? And then the movie just shows you, from point A to point B, no actual drama or interesting stuff involved at all. It’s a very elementary, almost insulting way to tell a story, made all the more idiotic by how awful the rest of the film is. This isn’t so much a story about a serial killer’s upbringing and history so much as it is a glorified Wikipedia entry about his life.

So, yeah, if you’re wondering what other great things are in store for us in this segment…how does seeing a little kid smacked around and forced to mop up the blood of a dead girl sound? What about seeing him cleaning up his father’s drunken vomit? Or his father dragging him outside and showing him the unfinished grave of his murdered mother after his father kills her? Yeah, isn’t that last one an astounding display of intellect? “Durr, hey, I’ll just leave the dead body out in the open where any moron can stumble upon it, call the police and get me thrown in jail for the rest of my life!” I’m guessing this father’s strong point in school wasn’t logistics.

Parenting: the easy way!
Parenting: the hard way!

Further points of mind-numbing idiocy involve the entire character of the mother (before she gets killed, obviously). She’s completely heartless, cruel and awful throughout the entire thing. To the point where I was questioning why the hell she even has kids or a family at all if all she’s going to do is smack them around, lock them in closets and shout at them – yeah, she does it to the father too! It’s like “I HATE KIDS! I HATE MEN! I THINK I’LL GET MARRIED AND HAVE A KID ANYWAY!” It’s stupid, imbecilic writing and whoever penned it needs a good punch in the throat.

Second, the father makes no sense. Yes, he’s a religious zealot and a bit of a pushover, but to the point of begging his abusive, cold, unrealistically cruel wife to stay with him out of a Christian duty of marriage? I’m sorry…I just don’t buy that! This woman is the Devil! Throw her ass out and take your kid and LEAVE, you whiny piece of shit! Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh!

Oh, and the father is so Christian, but then like a few scenes later, he kills his wife and then takes his own life via hanging, thus leaving his son to fend for himself? Truly a Christian man! Never has such a pious, devoted soul been seen on this Earth! God damn, is there any justice in this wretched pile of horribleness? Is there even one decent person to balance the scales and show us that maybe, just maybe, there is some semblance of reality in this whole thing at all?

Back in the present day, we figure out what most intelligent viewers have known since the first flashback – the messed up kid with the messed up home life grew up into that superstar cop who is investigating the dead girls now. Yup, the movie expects us to be surprised that Luis, the cop, is actually the same person as the killer/screwed up kid from the other parts of the film. Except for the fact that it was so damn obvious that the only way you wouldn’t have figured it out by this point is if you were just so brain-dead from the rest of the film that your thought process literally couldn’t comprehend it. I mean, God, just look at these pictures back to back:

How is that even a twist? It’s so obviously the same person! You’d have to be blind not to see it! That’s even kind of insulting to blind people…I’m sure if they could understand the language, they would get it pretty quick, too. So, really, since the twist sucks, we’re just left with the ground works of filmmaking to carry us through. Unfortunately for this film, the story, acting, characters and overall plot are about as appealing as the insides of a week-old hot pocket left underneath your couch. The effects, I guess, are pretty good, but the movie does nothing with them, and they’re just left sort of sitting there for only a split second at a time before the film cuts away from them. How are we supposed to get invested in that?

Oh well, maybe at least the film will do us SOME good and explain all the supernatural, gory scenes that pop up throughout the film…let’s continue our viewing, shall we?

So the one chick found alive from that car story in the beginning points out that Luis is the one who has been keeping her there hostage the whole time. Why he hasn’t killed her yet, I have no idea. The chief of police is suddenly surprised now, even though at the beginning of the movie he was all-guns-blazing in support of Luis. But now he says Luis’s name in a slightly foreboding tone, which prompts Luis to open fire and kill him instantly. If he’s so smart that he hasn’t been caught for all these years doing all of this shit, then HOW THE HELL is he this dumb? Why didn’t he just play dumb and pretend the girl was just hysterical and didn’t know what she was talking about? If he’s this trigger-happy, to the point where he’d just open fire at someone saying his name wrong, I find it hard to believe he would have lasted this long as a crazy serial killer. Movie, you have lost me on this one.

Also, it’s good to know that the Filipino police force hires guys with shady backgrounds who may or may not kill young girls in his free time. That’s a real stunning accolade for the Filipino police force. I’m sure they were elated to be portrayed this way…E-LATED!

Okay, so Luis is chased into the house by a few other cops. He knocks one of them down and then yanks his bedsheet off the bed to wrap around the guy’s head, similar to his other victims. I just love that for some reason. “You made me waste a perfectly good bedsheet! I bought that from Bed, Bath and Beyond, you sonovabitch!”

"Am I really...about to get a pillowsheet? Wow,"

He then goes outside, gets in his car and…is accosted by guilt over all the people he’s killed? Why? Oh, who cares, I’ve done enough ranting about the rest of the movie. Plus, at least he finally kills himself afterwards. That makes up for the rest of this movie, even if it’s only a little bit. I also love how the cops approach with caution even when they’re already looking in the mirror and can see that he shot himself. Plus, they must have heard the gunshot from that close…what, are they afraid his ghost will come back and kill them? Fair enough, I guess, since the rules of the supernatural shit in this movie are so lenient. I’d expect just about anything now.

"Stand back, men! He might be contagious!"

And that’s it. It just kind of ends with some more promotional shots for the Phillipines countryside. Pfft, yeah, imagine the promotional text to go along with that: “Welcome to the Phillipines! If our unpaved dirt roads don’t kill you, our police officers sure will!”

This movie is abhorrent. I’m not even kidding around, people – this has got to be one of the most repulsive, mean spirited films I’ve ever seen. There’s simply nothing to it beyond child abuse and people screaming, in pain and seeing their loved ones murdered, and if you can’t give us a suspenseful story and some good, creative thrills to support those things, why should I bother watching this ugly, puerile hack work of a film? It's - and I never use this word lightly - offensive; just flat out offensive to my sense of human decency. It doesn’t help that, as I mentioned, everything else in the movie is done horribly, and also that it never explains any of the supernatural bloody ghosts that appear numerous times throughout. What kinda crap is that?

The effect is that it just comes off like the director half-assed everything else to get to the violence and depravity in the film. Which would make this exploitative, bottom of the barrel trash like no other. I personally can’t wait for the sequel, which will probably just be two hours of people getting crucified with broken nails. Happy happy, joy joy!

The images here do not belong to me, but to their original owners. I own none of them.