Road Games

April 18, 2016

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“…a clever, refreshing take an old story.”
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Road Games

Sophia Watson
Year: 2015
Rating: MA
Director: Abner Pastoll
Cast:

Andrew Simpson, Josephine de La Baume, Frederic Pierrot, Barbara Crampton

Distributor: Bounty Films
Format:
Released: April 20
Running Time: 95 minutes
Worth: 4 Discs

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…a clever, refreshing take an old story.

The soft horror/thriller genre is riddled with overdone tropes and predictable plot twists. The butler did it, he was dead the whole time, all the pretty girl’s friends are killed while she falls to pieces, helpless, wondering, ‘Why, why!?’ Thankfully, Road Games rests on none of these tired devices.

Written and directed by Brit, Abner Pastoll, Road Games follows Jack (Andrew Simpson), a down-and-out Englishman who, after a disastrous summer trip, finds himself hitchhiking through the sun-drenched rural French countryside with nothing but his British passport and free-spirited French femme, Veronique (Joséphine de La Baume). Unaware of dangers that are plaguing the roads, they try without much success to get home, instead becoming entangled with a mysterious married couple and a local road kill collector in rural France.

Road Games challenges the genre at every turn, removing all the common directorial manoeuvres, like a heavy, Jaws-style score, dim lighting, verbose editing, and so on. For example, the film was shot in the small English country town of Sevenoaks just outside of Kent, dripping with light and colour instead of blood, leaving the responsibility to communicate the sense of foreboding solely to the characters.

Here, clever thematic choices such us cutting between English and French, mean that even the characters themselves can’t rely on anything, even language, to help them navigate the situation. In fact, Pastoll puts a great deal of pressure on the cast to deliver on what is only a four-character narrative, especially without having the typical crutches that the genre is known for. The performances are highly-nuanced, and will have you questioning your own judgement at every juncture, particularly those of Frederic Pierrot and long-time scream queen, Barbara Crampton.

But beyond all of that – and without giving too much away – Road Games is really just enjoyable. For genre aficionados, this is a clever, refreshing take on an old story, and for everyone else, it’s simply thrilling to get lost in translation.

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