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Darkness of the Road

If you’re in the right mindset, this film will make you feel like you’re being oppressed by a demon before it swallows your soul.

The Darkness of the Road is a tension builder with decent production value and better than decent acting from its small cast, which includes Paris Dylan, Johnny Whitworth, Leah Lauren, child actress Gwyneth Glover, and main protagonist Najarra Townshend, whose believable performance is both haunting and tragic.

Lucio Ascanio’s excellent and modern score raises goose-bumps, and the special effects are solid throughout, practically dripping off the screen during the most intense scenes.

Cinematographer John DeFazio rises to the occasion and makes the darkness work for the viewer on multiple levels, instead of simply plunging them into it.

You’ve seen this movie before, and you may have seen it done better.

The first half-hour plays out like a familiar nightmare.

It’s complete with creepy good old boys, mysterious hitchhikers, pretty much everything going wrong that can, terrifying shapes and noises in the night, and the sinking feeling that things are way worse than they seem. But, you’ll probably also get the sinking feeling that this is a rehashed episode of Tales from Darkside.

Thankfully, I just happen to love Tales from the Darkside and all those tropey but spooky old shows that taught us that the dark side is always there, waiting to enter us, waiting for us to enter it.

Here’s a bumper sticker for you: “THE MEANING OF LIFE IS THAT IT ENDS”. How do you like them apples?

This little blurb features just in time for the main theme of the dialog to switch over from what’s happening in the moment to why everything is happening – the unsatisfactory conditions of a universe filled with pain and death – before jolting the audience back into the present with pristinely timed jump scares.

(And really, what good is a slow burn without the occasional singe?)

The second act does seem for a moment like it’s as stalled as the protagonist’s car (don’t we all love that trope?) after a while.

But the excellent soundtrack and acting help get us over the hump.  At that point, you really begin to feel as though you may know more about what’s going on than the protagonist, and that can’t be good…for the protagonist.

Then, all that tension is resolved and you are just grateful that the Morbidly Beautiful reviewer didn’t spill the beans about any of it because, just like a classic piece of music, there’s nothing quite like a horror film that goes out on a dark note — even if you are reasonably sure what that note will be a few measures before it’s played.

And never forget: “Nilbog is Goblin spelled backwards.” Also, I think everyone’s a little bit Catholic. I’m pretty sure Fulci, Friedkin, and writer/director Eduardo Rodriguez would agree.

Don’t miss this terrifying ride through the darkness. And please, buckle up.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5