Out now on DVD in Australia – @lcfremont reviews…
Road movies are a genre staple because, when done correctly, they allow for a seriously creepy story to be told within a minimalist existence. You just need one or two automobiles, a stretch of rural land and the kind of villain who seems to have no real motive. And no real motive is always real scary. If you’re of a certain age, then you were lucky enough to grow up with a 1981 movie called Road Games that starred Stacy Keech and Jamie Lee Curtis:I don’t know about you, but the final shot of that film is forever burned into my memory palace. Fast forward to 2016 and we have a new Road Games, but do not be mistaken; this is no mere remake, retread, reimagining, retooling or any other “re” word. This is the real deal when it comes to the horror road movie.
From writer/director Abner Pastoll comes a simple, yet effective, film that follows Jack and Veronique on an unfortunate journey. Perhaps things are different in rural France, but hitchhiking in America is decidedly dangerous, so it took a few minutes to get into the groove of Jack ambling along an isolated road, hoping for a ride from a good samaritan. Strangely, Jack is a hitchhiker with no pack, so you kind of wonder where he came from and where he thinks he’s going with only the shirt on his back. As he sees an oncoming car begin to drive erratically, he’s the one who turns into a good samaritan and helps beautiful Veronique out of what looked to be a troubling situation with the male driver. Jack now has a hitchhiking companion who is not only easy on the eyes, but has one of those fresh, carefree attitudes towards life. She also knows about the serial killer that is currently stalking the roads, looking for fresh meat.
Andrew Simpson plays Jack with an easy going attitude despite, clearly, having a few skeletons in his closet. Quickly besotted by Veronique, played by the captivating and sexy Joséphine de La Baume (Kiss of the Damned – review here) these two have a lovely time in the beautiful countryside before being picked up by Grizard. Frédéric Pierrot (The Returned – which, if you haven’t seen it, you are missing out) is your typical friendly, yet slightly creepy, guy that always shows up in these kinds of films. After bringing our two attractive leads to his palatial, country home we are introduced to his wife Mary, played by the always wonderful Barbara Crampton.
Of course nothing is as it seems in this home, but really, is any house as perfect under the surface as we all want to believe it is? While Veronique is suspicious of this friendly couple, Jack is a bit more open to their peculiar brand of friendliness. Things progress at an easy pace and there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of things that can occur in a movie of this nature, but at no point does Road Games feel like a lazy, paint by numbers film. It’s the clean, simple lines of the story that elevate it to something more and all of the actors inhabit their roles so perfectly, that it all feels so idyllic. While a couple of the plot points are not super surprising, this viewer found some others to be quite surprising. It’s the beautiful land that is so lovingly filmed and the breeziness of the actors that lulls you into a feeling of security that is, ultimately, pulled right out from under you and you’re so happy that it was. As with all movies that you love, but want other people to experience as well, it would be a disservice to speak any more on the story. Road Games has been garnering some great word of mouth and it is all well deserved. Color me eager to see what else Pastoll has up his sleeve.
Images courtesy of Bounty Films