Word of advice, kiddies: Never hitchhike with strangers cause they have dark secrets! That seems to be the message behind every single one of these hitchhiker-in-peril movies that always warn everyone to never take anything for face value, and this is definitely no exception. The addition of Horror-stalwart Barbara Crampton playing the crazed mommy-dearest type figure will certainly attract genre-aficionado’s, although the presences of young leads Andrew Simpson and Josephine de La Baume will probably leave audiences surprised by their inclusion. What we have here with Road Games is a young man who meets up with a young woman on the road, until they hitch a ride with an eccentric man who invites them to stay for the night with his seemingly crazed wife. After that, they young duo soon realise that the older couple have no intentions on them leaving.
Despite an intriguing premise, what we get is a film that’s okay for the most part, even if there are major flaws to be found here. The title is kind of a complete lie, as this film doesn’t really happen on the road much with most of the “games” happening in houses, barns or fields making it a red herring. The big twist at the end doesn’t seem to have any real purpose except for more padding since that doesn’t really make much impact or is even hinted at in the earlier parts of the story. Speaking of which, this movie feels like it’s loaded to the gills with padding with a lot of sequences dragging the momentum down in the first hour before the wackiness takes reign in the last 35 minutes or so. The juxtaposition between the English and French dialogue also feels jarring, like as if the film can’t quite decide whether or not it wants to be an English or French-Language film.
The performances are mostly solid (particularly strongest thanks to Crampton), yet sometimes it tends to be a bit on the bland side, thanks to some pretty shoddy dialogue. Once the film starts to kick in in the last third, that’s when the movie finally comes to like somewhat, thanks to a scintillating score by Daniel Elms that almost has an old school giallo vibe to it, and also some atmospheric cinematography by Eben Bolter. It’s just a shame this is let down by sluggish pacing and an underdeveloped script that really could’ve benefitted from one more rewrite.
In the end, Road Games is just another average B-movie horror thriller that does offer up some form of entertainment while its there, but it could’ve easily have been spruced up quite a bit. The main problem is undeniably its relentless padding; for example, during the third act, we are introduced to a seemingly psychotic farmer who really has no bearings on the plot. If all the padded sections have been cut out, the whole thing would probably have been half the length of the movie. Overall, it’s not worth checking out really, except if you are a die-hard horror/thriller aficionado.
Dir: Abner Pastoll
Scr: Abner Pastoll
Cast: Andrew Simpson, Josephine de La Baume, Frederic Pierott, Barbara Crampton, Feodor Atkine
Prd: Guillaume Benski, Junyoung Jang
DOP: Eben Bolter
Music: Daniel Elms
Run time: 95 mins
Road Games will be released on Digital Download and VOD 26th August and DVD 29th August