Road, The (2011)
Written and directed by Yam Laranas
There are certain places in this world that you just shouldn't visit. Places in which things so hideous have occurred that negative energy cannot help but be left behind. With his film The Road director Yam Laranas not only takes you to such a place, but he leaves you stranded there white-knuckled and helpless.
The film focuses on a stretch of abandoned road somewhere in the Philippines where twelve years ago two sisters disappeared without a trace. The case remained unsolved, but now, over a decade later, three more teens go missing in the same area. Families are distraught, police are baffled and you the viewer are drawn into the mystery and horror of a nightmare happening before your very eyes. To tell you anything more about The Road's storyline would do you a complete disservice as this journey is one of discovery riddled with twists and turns that make sense instead of just being tacked on for shock value that never really pays off.
The Road is a slow-burn ghost story. One that's very deliberate in its pacing. Director Laranas (coming from a background as a cinematographer) displays a keen eye for shot composition and as a result manages to conjure some of the most truly unsettling moments we've seen all year. Couple that with rock-solid and believable casting along with a haunting score by Johan Söderqvist (Let the Right One In), and we have a true winner hampered only by a few pacing issues that by the time the credits roll are easy to forgive.
Told in non-linear fashion, The Road does a great job of explaining (while not over-explaining) the history of this accursed location and the events which transpired to make it that very dark place that people only whisper about while telling ghost stories. The experience is as incredibly creepy as it is fulfilling.
Every frame of The Road oozes with atmosphere and dread. The film is beautifully shot, incredibly intense, and as frightening as they come. You may not know the name Yam Laranas just yet, but get used to it as we have a feeling it's one we are going to be hearing for some time to come. Take the ride. There's no turning back.
4 out of 5