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The Road  (2012)
2 Stars
Directed by Yam Laranas.
Cast: TJ Trinidad, Barbie Forteza, Lexi Fernandez, Derrick Monasterio, Rhian Ramos, Louise de los Reyes, Alden Richards, Renz Valerio, Carmina Villaroel, Marvin Agustin, Alynna Asistio, Jacklyn Jose, John Regala.
2012 – 110 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for violence, terror and some disturbing images).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, May 9, 2012.
Not to be confused with another, more prominent film called "The Road," the 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel about a father and son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic United States, Yam Laranas' Filipino horror pic "The Road" is a different beast altogether. Three interlocking stories each set ten years apart (why the events in 1998 are described as being twelve years old in the 2008 segment is a discrepancy never properly explained) are told in reverse order, gradually informing the viewer about the title location, a cursed stretch of asphalt that lets few interlopers escape with their lives. An exercise in setting up creepy moments with the singular goal of startling, the film's plot eventually becomes predictable as well as repetitive as its characters never grow beyond that of helpless victims with no defining traits beyond the physical. By never bothering to breed any emotion outside of that which comes with its scare tactics, there simply is nothing to put a stake in and care about.

2008: three joyriding teens without licenses (Barbie Forteza, Lexi Fernandez, Derrick Monasterio) try to evade a police checkpoint by shortcutting on a rural backroad, only to be accosted by a driverless red car and a handful of ghostly corpses. As their attempts to escape lead them in circles, it soon becomes apparent that something supernatural has made sure they don't make it home alive. In 1998, two sisters (Rhian Ramos and Louise de los Reyes) with car trouble seek the help of a teen boy (Alden Richards) who lures them to his home and then violently attacks. And all the way back in 1988, a child (Renz Valerio) is mentally tortured by two religious zealots parents (Carmina Villaroel and Marvin Agustin) with a penchant for murdering anyone who comes on their property.

"The Road" is heavy on atmosphere—the stark images over the opening titles paint a distinctly threatening and lonesome portrait of a mysterious place that not even the sun can illuminate—but light on substance. A wraparound story, also set in 2008, finds a newly promoted young police officer (TJ Trinidad) reopening the investigation into the unsolved '98 disappearance of sisters. Where it goes is easily guessed, but does it satisfy or answer any lurking questions the viewer might have? Not really. While some of writer-director Yam Laranas' bag of genre tricks are effective for such a clearly low-budget effort—he borrows liberally from the Asian horror movement—his tendency to cut to black before the payoff becomes more frustrating than fun. "The Road" leaves one wishing for more than it offers.
© 2012 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman