20th Dec2021

‘The Darkness of the Road’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Najarra Townsend, Gwyneth Glover, Leah Lauren, Johnny Whitworth, Paris Dylan | Written and Directed by Eduardo Rodriguez

I thought I would give myself a break from the dozens of Christmas movies this month and watch a movie I literally knew nothing about except its title. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a Christmas movie and that it was probably a low-budget genre title but this was just guess work.

I would be right though and what I got with The Darkness of the Road was a low budget sci-fi thriller horror blend that is hard to pigeon hole. We initially see a young woman, Siri, and her young daughter on the road seemingly get away from someone or something to get a fresh start somewhere else. They end up stopping at a petrol station and through a couple of incidents pick up another young woman looking to get away but then once away they lose the daughter under mysterious circumstances. That might sound a lot for the first twenty minutes or so but it’s easy to follow and sets up the movie nicely.

There is a strangeness to much of The Darkness of the Road but this is clearly deliberate from the director. Sometimes it feels like much of it is a dream and when odd alien-like figures start showing up around their broken down vehicle this only feeds into the feeling. If anything, the surreal feeling of the movie only becomes stronger the longer it goes on.

One of the things I noticed, and enjoyed, most with The Darkness of the Road was the lighting and the directors use of it. It might be a strange thing to point out in a movie but it really was that good. The first scene I noticed it in was at the petrol station. The shot of the car parked outside of it, surrounded by darkness but perfectly lit with yellow and blue. I liked it so much that I had to post on Twitter straight after watching the movie about it.

Throughout the movie the darkness of the night (the film is set almost entirely at night) is contrasted with bright colours coming from car lights, phone screens or a tinted blue sky. Colour is very important and I loved it all.

Both woman do great in the lead roles. Leah Lauren as the young woman they pick up is the much less experienced of the two actors but she keeps up with her co-star throughout much of the film. Sharing the intensity in each scene it is needed. As Siri, Najarra Townsend – who should be recognised by horror fans after appearances in Contracted, The Stylist and much more – is great too. Using all of her experience – at only 32 she somehow has 100 IMDb credits to her name – she is the star and works as hard as ever in the lead. In the final ten minutes or so, she really steps up the performance and even if you get a little confused as to where the story is going, you’ll still be hooked on her performance.

And about that story. I was pretty sure I knew where it was going and I was at least partly right but when it gets to that point, it doesn’t quite end there. There’s more to be said and although it doesn’t answer all the questions it raises (at least not for me), I didn’t feel let down by the conclusion (if a little confused though).

I feel with a bigger budget The Darkness of the Road could have been an even better movie, at least when it comes to teh look of the alien figures and a few other moments but the low budget doesn’t hamper proceedings much at all. The Darkness of the Road surprised me. This is an ambitious and thought-provoking genre movie that will grip you until its very last moments.

*** 3/5

The Darkness of the Road is out now on DVD, Digital & On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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