Director: Nicholas Smith
Year of release: 2011
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 82-86 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Also known as: The Wrong Road
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: On the night before a carnival is set to draw in a large number of visitors to the small town of St Charles the local sheriff learns of the escape of a maniac who was responsible for a number of child murders in the town years before. Worried he may be hiding out somewhere around town with the intention of causing mayhem at the carnival the sheriff along with his deputy conduct a frantic search of the area. Meanwhile a group of four high school students have driven out to the supposedly haunted site within the town limits known as Munger Road. This isolated old road is said to be haunted by the ghosts of a bus load of kids killed on railway tracks nearby plus the spirit of a victim of the aforementioned escaped killer. The kids find themselves in trouble when their car suddenly breaks down and they begin to experience strange phenomena.
Good points: The scenes with the Sheriff and Deputy driving around town searching for the escaped killer are well done for the most part and evoke memories of the Dr Loomis character doing a similar thing in Halloween. Though the Deputy seemed a bit of a coward the Sheriff himself was a likeable enough sort and for me his character and scenes provided the best bits of the movie.
The acting is pretty solid all around from the main characters of the four stranded students and the previously mentioned sheriff to lesser more minor characters we meet around town. With this being a low budget affair you would maybe expect really terrible cheesy acting to go along with the minimal finances but that doesn’t prove to be the case here. Though the film as a whole or the script aren’t great the actors all do the best they could do with what they are given.
In addition to the acting being above par for a low budget film this is also nicely shot and directed as well. Despite a few problems here and there which I’ll touch on later this remains a pretty stylish effort taking into account the money available for the project.
The urban legends surrounding the Munger Road site were okay, a bit too focused on ghosts for my liking but creepy if you’re more into supernatural type stuff. Based on real stories from the real life Munger Road area in Illinois they would particularly appeal to those from the state who have perhaps heard word of them before. The backstory of the escaped killer was okay as well when we began to learn a little bit more about the child murders.
Bad Points: When it comes to the deaths in this they are about as bad as you could imagine. Everything is off camera and the only bit of claret we do see is a tiny trickle of blood running down someone’s head. Less is more you could say and the director certainly seemed to take that to heart but it is an approach that proves to be a let down.
The film unfortunately ends extremely abruptly without any kind of satisfying conclusions being drawn. Things just cut off with a “To be continued” message. I’m not sure if they had planned to release a sequel very shortly after but didn’t do so due to lack of money and demand from the public. If not that then most likely the director/writing team just didn’t have a clue how to end it. Needless to say it makes for an infuriating end to things just leaving it as they do.
There were quite a lot of confusing parts in this that either weren’t very well explained or didn’t make much sense. You may want to skip this part where I go off on a tangent trying to list all the things that didn’t add up for me:
To start off with just a small thing it wasn’t clear if the two male teenagers had set up the incident with the handprint on the bumper to scare the girls or if it was a genuine supernatural thing. Presumably they faked it themselves but if this was the case I think it would have worked better and been less confusing if they had actually shown us the boys setting up the ruse out of sight of the girls.
Shortly after it wasn’t clear if the car being moved off the tracks was again another piece of deception by the boys or something more sinister It didn’t help that they gave us a total blackout as this was happening. I think the blackout happened as we the viewer were perhaps supposed to be seeing events unfold through the camera at this point but that wouldn’t be the case for the girls themselves so if it was the boys faking it and moving the car they would surely have seen this. That they didn’t would I guess imply it was all supernatural but that really wasn’t the impression I got at the time. It was as clear as mud lets put it that way.
Going back to the point above there is a long winded minute or so where we are perhaps supposed to be seeing things through the camera but all we get is pitch darkness for some reason. It is never explained why the camera is only recording pitch black and if you are justifying it by saying it was all supernatural and this effected the cameras then why provide us a view of looking through said camera if we can’t see anything? On a couple of other occasions we also were restricted to looking through the video camera and these segments were really bad in terms of picture quality, just very grainy and generally poor quality. Towards the end as well with Joe at the barn/farmhouse it was far too dark to the point where we could barely see a damned thing. Though perhaps trying to be atmospheric I just found it annoying more than anything else and it was a shame as it let down the good work in terms of visual style seen throughout the majority of the picture.
Another strange thing I noticed is that the copper thief inexplicably attacks the Deputy even though he had a clear run at escaping through the door. It was just meant to be a false scare I suppose with us thinking the thief was the maniac but it didn’t make sense for him to attack when he had a clear escape route.
Sticking with the Deputy when he is investigating the killers old house there is a weird white/blue light shining into the windows through the blinds from outside even though at this point it is supposed to be the middle of the night.
Another silly thing was that Joe seemed to find the farmhouse really quickly but the Sheriff, despite knowing where he is going as he has been there before seems to take an age to arrive after leaving his car. So much so that the sun comes up before he even makes it.
Before Corey set out on his own after the car broke down I thought all four of the kids acted far too scared once they started hearing the faint noises outside the vehicle. They seemed absolutely terrified but haunted site or not I don’t think most people would be quite this cowed by such a small noise. The kids cell phones all looked really old fashioned as well but I don’t think this was set in the past and came out in 2011 so surely smart phones were around by then.
Finally the whole business with the van was confusing I thought . I could be wrong but I’m sure the sheriff does a background check on the vans plates but I think they already knew the van was stolen and the owner had been found dead. They then make a point of the person the search has thrown up isn’t answering their phone. Well maybe because they’re dead! It also wasn’t clear why the van had been abandoned where it had. Maybe to link it to the hotel but in that case why not park it in the hotel car park itself? It wasn’t as if the killer could have reached Munger Road through the tunnels beneath the hotel anyway as they only led as far as the church with the tunnel from there to Munger Road being behind the wall partition. So the killer couldn’t have gone that way recently as the partition was still in place. Spoiler: They were trying to imply at the end that the killer was a ghost but even that didn’t make sense as if he was already dead before arriving in town why did he need to drive the van there which was left in the vicinity of the hotel? If it was supposed to be another ghost unrelated to Shay Gunter then what was the purpose of the van? It was all just too confusing and a bit of a mess.
Verdict: Without beating around the bush I’ll just come out and say that I didn’t like this very much as it was riddled with too many things that didn’t add up or weren’t explained and thus was frustrating to sit through. It was also slow paced and in my view they made a mistake in trying to take a more cerebral approach and cut dramatically back on gore in the process. It didn’t seem to know if it wanted to be a ghost story or a slasher so instead tried to be a bit of both but failed to deliver on both accounts. Considering as well the dreadful closing scene where it appears that the director just lost interest and couldn’t be bothered to finish it you are left with a very poor film indeed. I would have given this a 2/10 but the solid acting and some strong characters here and there just about elevated it to a 3.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Rachael: We see a hand reaching for her head as she is sitting in the car followed by screams.
2) Male teenager: Is attacked by something unseen as he investigates the car looking for Rachael. We don’t see what happens to him.
3) Corey: Attacked and killed off camera in the farmhouse barn after briefly reuniting with Joe.