Title: The Road
Director: Yam Laranas (‘The Echo,’ ‘Patient X’)
Starring: TJ Trinidad, Barbie Forteza, Derrick Monasterio, Lexi Fernandez, Rhian Ramos and Louise delos Reyes
Foreign language films with subtitles often turn prospective viewers away, as many people don’t have the patience to read what’s going on throughout the entire movie. But some foreign movies not only feature intriguing locations and sets, but enough emotional back-stories to captivate audiences worldwide. The new Filipino horror crime drama ‘The Road’ is one such film, as it entertainingly balances the unique motivations of a ruthless killer, the futile attempts by his victims to escape and an interesting abandoned road and house that largely influence the murders.
‘The Road’ follows police officer Luis (played by TJ Trinidad) as he hopes to impress his superiors after winning a medal. After three teenagers, including Ella (portrayed by Barbie Forteza), her brother Brian (played by Derrick Monasterio) and their friend Janine (portrayed by Lexi Fernandez), vanish while driving on an infamous abandoned road, Luis begins looking into their disappearance.
The road the three teens were driving on is the same road where two sisters, Laura (played by Rhian Ramos) and Joy (portrayed by Louise delos Reyes), vanished from 12 years ago. Luis and his fellow investigators are drawn into the road’s gruesome past, which includes abduction and murders that have spanned over the past 20 years.
The horror crime drama, which is considered to be the first Filipino film to be commercially distributed in the United States in 50 mainstream theaters nationwide, features an intriguing premise by co-writer and director Yam Laranas. ‘The Road’ elaborately and intriguingly connects and interweaves two different murder cases, the first of which has almost been forgotten by the police department since it occurred 12 years ago. Laranas focuses heavily on the actions of the teen victims, and their clever attempts to escape their elusive pursuer, to little avail. While the filmmaker includes interesting murders in the movie, including the killer’s seeming obsession with strangling his victims, he perfectly balances the killings with the psychological trauma the teens are experiencing as they’re being tormented.
Besides the interesting psychological effects the chases have on the teens, ‘The Road’ also features creepy sets and locations that effectively add to the story’s horrific crimes. One of the most captivating locations is the abandoned house off the road where Laura and Joy are taken by their killer. Between its decaying rooms and the killer tying down his victims to prevent them from escaping, the house is an important character in itself; it represents the loss of innocence of both the killer and his victims.
While ‘The Road’ only runs for 110 minutes, the last segment of the film, which chronicles the history of the house, unfortunately slows down the interesting pace of the story. Viewers will surely be interested in how the house became connected to the road and the killings. The story of the last family who lived there before they abandoned it, however, fails to live up to the eerie crimes and psychological thrills of the previous two segments.
Laranas created an intriguing, suspenseful horror crime story in ‘The Road,’ skillfully intertwining distinctive, terrifying murders taking place on the same abandoned road, 12 years apart. As Luis looks into how the crimes are connected, and why they’re continuously happening in the same area, glimpses into both crimes leave a psychological effect on viewers. They’re left wondering themselves how the murders are related, despite the segment focusing on the history of the house slowing down the pace of the otherwise suspenseful film.
Written by: Karen Benardello