Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Toad Road (2012)

Fear 3/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 2/5

Toad Road is the first film that will be released under Elijah Wood's (yes, that Elijah Wood) new production company The Woodshed. It's interesting that this particular film was chosen as it's anything but conventional. Reading the mission statement of the group, I think that is exactly what they're aiming for: exposing and bringing to the masses unconventional, challenging horror. This one will challenge most viewers and is definitely not one for the casual horror fan. For me, the film is a bit of a mixed bag but a couple of things are for certain: it's a tough watch and it will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The film centers on a group of young teens and twenty-somethings, wasting away their days in AnywhereTown, USA. Living in a back woods, country setting, they waste time and brain cells by drinking themselves into oblivion and doing loads of drugs. Some of them are in bands, some have notions of getting a higher education but by and large they're lost youths. And youths that have no parental figures around at all. In fact, you don't see a single family member (nor any adults for that matter) during the course of our film.

Our story begins to focus on one couple in particular: the ring leader so to speak of our group and his beautiful girlfriend who seems to be the more sensible one of the bunch. You see, she goes to school and does not partake in the daily excesses of this group that's headed for an early grave fast. But a hot and heavy relationship combined with her own curiosity around the effects of drugs leads her to experiment and things soon spiral out of control.

As she pushes the boundaries of her drug use, she becomes more and more obsessed with a local legend. As it goes, past a gate and through a long and winding unmarked road, are various passageways. Each one gets progressively worse and if you make it to the very end (which no one has), you enter hell itself. Not only does she think she can make it all the way, but she also thinks it to be the vehicle by which she can experience the ultimate drug induced high.

Amid some horrifying visions and continued drug use, she convinces her boyfriend to go with her on her journey. They then set out and as they enter the 2nd or 3rd passageway, they begin to experience certain sensations. But you don't know if they're real or drug induced. Things escalate as they continue on and begin to hear voices. Our obsessive girlfriend wanders off and soon goes missing. From here on out, our film continues to play into the mind of the viewer as to what's really going on: is something supernatural at work or is this just one long, dark, bleak, and utterly fucked up cautionary tale?

And that's kind of where the film is a bit of a mixed bag for me, it wasn't definitively one or the other but I'm leaning towards cautionary tale. It has a very real feel to it as all of the booze and drug use is in your face and very raw. Much like The Bunny Game before it, it makes you wonder aloud how much of it was real as it pushes the boundaries of performance art. If you like challenging horror and unconventional filmmaking, Toad Road just might be up your alley.

Cortez the Killer

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