BluRay/DVD Reviews

TOAD ROAD

By • Dec 16th, 2013 •

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Spookiness comes in many different forms. The horror genre has grown so many diverse branches that’s it’s easy to forget what makes true horror. TOAD ROAD succeeds in finding a new way to get under our skin, while borrowing little from the tropes that we’ve come to expect in a traditional horror film.

The story follows a bunch of druggies, and one in particular – Jason – as they slack off and get wasted with each other. And that’s all we see for a while, which for a second made me forget I was watching a horror film (however the abuse that Jason willingly puts himself through each day is in itself a horrific montage). But then nice girl Sara arrives, who Jason takes a shine to, but all Sara wants to do is dig deeper and experiment with these substances, while all Jason wants to do is take a break. And in between all of this is the mysterious “Toad Road”, which is a forest path rumored to be super spooky, making people hallucinate and panic up until they eventually make it to hell.

The film isn’t very linear. We jump back and forth from flashback to slightly more recent flashback, following Jason and Sara as they drag each other down to a miserable place. At first I felt bad for Sara, the straight ‘A’ student who fell in with the wrong crowd, but in an effective role reversal, suddenly Jason wants to shape up while all Sara wants to do is get high and walk through Toad Road. All the while with a beautiful yet eerie musical score which kept the seemingly harmless scenes as disturbing as the rest.

Knowing that I was watching a horror film, I kept waiting for something to jump out at me or for someone to get brutally murdered, but for the most part that never happens. The spook manages to find it’s way inside you without needing to resort to any cheap shots (again, for the most part). Jason and Sara are believable to the point that you feel like you know them. In fact I’ll go further to say that they’re so real, it almost feels like a documentary, even more so when you learn (if it’s in fact true and not a PR stunt in keeping with the narrative tone) that Sara Ann Jones, the actress portraying Sara, died of a drug overdose not long after the film’s completion.

This film exists in it’s own universe. Much like our characters, the story seems to drag us somewhere that we know we shouldn’t be, but are too curious to go the other way. TOAD ROAD spooked me in a way I haven’t been spooked before, and that by itself was worth the viewing.

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