**Although it seems kind of silly to worry about spoiling an EVIL TRUCK movie, here’s a warning. Some spoilers in this review.**
Road Kill, known as Road Train in Australia, is one of eight films included in the Fangoria FrightFest series. (But the truck movie called Road Kill in Australia… is called Joy Ride here. Vehicular horror is so confusing…) Currently available exclusively from Blockbuster, a wider release of these films hits the streets on September 28th. Here’s the official description of Road Kill:
Four young friends on a camping adventure are run off the road by an erratically driven road train – a massive three-trailer truck. With their own vehicle wrecked and the road train stopped, the friends march off to vent their anger at the driver. But the truck is empty. Suddenly, the silence is broken by the sound of gunshots. To escape, the friends commandeer the road train. What they discover inside the vehicle s trailers proves more terrifying than anything out there on that lonely road. The next town is only three hours away, but will they reach it?
Following in the uh… “tradition” of evil vehicle movies like Christine and Maximum Overdrive, we’ve got a deadly supernatural truck on our hands. We appreciate good quality cinema as much as the next film geek, but we would be lying if we didn’t admit to enjoying some trash too. We’ve been pretty excited about seeing this one. Just look at that cover. Evil truck!
Jenny Dreadful: This truck is basically a vampire truck. The concept of a vampire truck delights me. Besides that… I thought that the gory scenes and violence were done very well. Specifically an impressively shot car crash and the secrets eventually revealed inside the mysterious truck’s cabin. I was also surprised and impressed with the film’s strong female characters. They weren’t unrealistic super-women or naked objectified victims. They were fairly realistic and pro-active ladies for a change. And major points for showing man ass before female nudity too!
StayFrosty: I can appreciate that they tried something new – a vampire truck! I do like a good possession, so I enjoyed that some of the characters were more or less turned into Renfields by the truck. I think that led to some of the better moments in the film, like when you finally met the old “driver”. It didn’t ultimately succeed and at the end devolved into a more traditional slasher (guy chasing girl through the woods, etc) but I do like it when people go for the more ambiguous or not typical stuff. I feel that it was a good choice that you were made to wait to see the horror in the truck – and when you did see it, it was pretty successful as a set piece. And it passed the Bechdel test in spades, so that’s a plus for me. :-)
Crowbait: Anyone who gets to film in Australia automatically scores points with me because they have the opportunity to shoot some of the most beautiful vistas as a backdrop to their action. I used to think every cameraman in Australia was a genius but I’ve now realized that it’s just Australia itself. Point a camera in the direction of the horizon and you immediately have a sweeping landscape that intensifies how small and alone your actor is. This is especially useful in a horror film because Australia can look threatening in broad daylight.
The gimmick of the truck powered by gore is well done and the reveal is paced to keep the audience’s attention. Our final girl does the right things at the right times and admirably keeps firing until the gun is empty. Interplay between the characters is light but the scripting of their relationships and where they are headed is predictable by the end of act one.
Jenny Dreadful: Terrible terrible cuts to shots of wolf heads with red eyes. It gets really ridiculous. The film has this Cerberus symbolism that goes nowhere. See, audience???! The truck has a Cerberus hood ornament! LOOK AT IT. Get it? Get it??? I was hoping the heavy-handed theme was going take the film in a fun afterlife direction at least, but it never pans out. That is my main problem with Road Kill. The acting itself is acceptable for straight-to-video schlock, but the story and dialogue are pretty bad. There are also some laughably unclear character motivations. “We’ll always have the truck.”
StayFrosty: Didn’t like – dogs with CGI red eyes! And if you must have them, for god’s sake put them there for a reason! I feel like there was a whole explanation section that was left out. How does this film connect to Greek myth in any way? At all? Bueller? There are ways it could have easily, but none of them were used. I always hate it when an interesting idea goes sour in a film, and I do think this film would have been fine if it simplified and just went with a vampire truck, not a Greek-myth truck that possesses people and shows jump cuts of dogs with CGI eyes and maybe we’re going to Hades but then maybe not and then maybe we’ll never mention a Greek connection at all.
Crowbait: The film has an obsession with a Cerberus motif that recurs again and again, but never actually goes anywhere. It’s an allusion that creates some strong expectations by its insistence. The story doesn’t follow suit and the visions of multi-headed dogs with glowing red eyes that fade in and out when nothing else is going on seem misguided in retrospect.
The transformation of anyone who drives the vehicle into a Renfield-esque servant is what really advances the plot, and it’s what turns the characters against one another by empowering some of them but not others; so it hurt my suspension of disbelief when Craig’s compound fracture heals itself magically and he’s able to fast talk Liz into letting the issue drop.”
Would we recommend?
Jenny Dreadful: If you enjoy the occasional bad movie like we do and have some time to kill, then you could do much worse. I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t watch again. If you’re interested in Australian horror films, you could do much better. (Check out the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, if you don’t know where to start.) If you want to see a good film about a murderous supernatural vehicle, go watch Christine instead.
StayFrosty: I’d recommend it to people enjoy evil truck/road killer movies (there are only a few of them that don’t totally suck, and this does not totally suck), Aussie film completists (I don’t know how to spell this word), and people who enjoy the idea of a vampire truck. Just say it with me – vampire truck. Has a ring to it, right? :-)
Crowbait: There is nothing especially noteworthy about the film. It does its job as an “evil ghost machine” film and a “wandering the unforgiving deserts of Australia” movie and that’s about it. There are worse ways to spend your 90 minutes but there are also better.
Does it pass the Bechdel test?
We don’t get to say this very often, but it passes easily. Well done, Road Kill.