Monday, December 2, 2013

Toad Road (DVD Review) - Artsploitation Films

Directed By: Jason Banker
Written By: Jason Banker
Starring: Sara Anne Jones, James Davidson
Color/76 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
I love urban legends. I think they're an important part of growing up in any given town, they create a mystique and provoke imagination. The city of York, PA, an area not far from where I live and one that I'm pretty familiar with has an urban legend about the seven gates of hell. As with any urban legend details will vary slightly from person to person but the general idea is that an insane asylum existed on a road called Toad Road and there were gates erected to trap the inmates and now each gate represents a lair of hell. That is the very basic gist of it anyways, and if you're more interested in it there are plenty of resources t o check online. When I heard of a film featuring a drug fueled trip through the gates on TOAD ROAD I was very excited.

TOAD ROAD features a group of friends, heavy into their recreational drug use who spend their time playing music, dropping acid (or heroin, or meth, or E, etc...) and living their shitty lives but loving it nevertheless. One of their newest friends, Sara is new to the area, and drugs and wants to experience what her friends experience. As she gets deeper in to the drug use she falls more in love with it, as her apparent boyfriend is beginning to fall a bit out of favor with the crowd and drugs.

Sara finds out about the legend and wants to experience it despite the naysaying on her boyfriend James. They ride their bikes to the entry point of the first gate, where the psychological, and possibly physical, horrors begin, and James life falls to pieces.

I don't know where to begin with TOAD ROAD. The film is well acted, and when you learn that lead actress Sara Anne Jones died of a drug overdose shortly after it's premiere in 2012 it becomes a bit eery. TOAD ROAD wants to be a horror film filled with psychological turmoil. Instead TOAD ROAD stays in it's own skin, failing to become more than it simply is, which is a glimpse into the downward spiral caused by rampant and abusive drug use. The urban legend is only a catalyst for more drug use and never truly becomes a part of the story which severely hurts TOAD ROAD and holds it back. The director handles his duties capably but this cautionary tale of drug use, which sadly transcended cinema into the real world, is not the brilliant drug induced, trippy, psychotic horror tale i had deeply hoped for. 

The Audio & Video
Artsploitation Films delivers TOAD ROAD with a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that brings the director's stylistic choices to life. This film was largely filmed like a documentary of sorts and it looks as such. There are no real issues with the disc. The audio is great, clear and balanced with no distortions of any kind. The soundtrack and dialogue tracks are perfectly mixed.

The Extras
This disc features a pretty impressive lineup of special features including:
 -Audio commentary with the director and cast members
-Deleted scenes
-Behind the scenes featurette 
-Audition tapes
-Additional footage (DUI story, Shotgun a beer)
- 8 page booklet
-Reversible cover art


The Bottom Line
TOAD ROAD isn't a bad film, far from it in fact. It is a bit indecisive however and that ends up being a disappointment for me. It does hit like a punch in the gut by the time it is over and if you temper your expectations of what you want the film to be you should find TOAD ROAD to be a solid film.

TOAD ROAD is available HERE

1 comment:

Alvin Brickrock said...

Thanks for intriguing review as this is not what I had expected it to be. I haven't seen it yet, but love regional horror/legends kind of stuff and after seeing the poster awhile back I was kinda of interested. I still want to see it, but now I know what to expect. Thanks again !