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Film Review: Roadside (2013)

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SYNOPSIS:

Dan and his pregnant wife, Mindy are stopped by a gunman while traveling to visit family during the holidays. The pair must fight for their survival on an isolated road, while the hidden sniper holds them hostage.

REVIEW:

Roadside surprised me; I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It is a suspenseful, psychological thriller kept me entertained from start to finish.

Roadside is directed by Eric England (known for Madison County,) and follows Dan Summers (Ace Marrero) and his pregnant wife Mindy, (Katie Stegeman) who are traveling to visit their families for Christmas. It is evident from the start of the movie that Dan and Mindy are an unhappy couple. Most of the dialogue at the beginning consists of petty arguments, and it is shown that Dan is texting another woman behind Mindy’s back.

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After an intense scene where Dan and Mindy almost get ran off of the road by a maniac with a serious case of road rage, the couple stop at a gas station where they are warned about approaching bad weather. While at the gas station, the couple runs into the man who almost ran them off of the road, and the store owner gives them an emergency kit, that includes a flare gun. Once Dan and Mindy leave the gas station and get back on the road, they must stop to move a dead tree from the middle of the road and that’s when things really get deadly.

After Dan removes the branch from the middle of the road, he heads back to his car, but he is stopped by a disembodied voice coming from the woods telling him not to move. When Dan disobeys the hidden stranger and heads back to the car anyways, the headlight of the car is shot out. The remainder of the movie consists of Dan standing outside of the car in the freezing cold, trying to reason with the concealed maniac holding them hostage for an unknown reason, while Mindy tries to help as much as she can from inside of the car. Although some parts of Roadside were predictable, I found myself genuinely surprised by the ending.

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Roadside is a fresh new take on films that focus on couples who are targeted by a violent psychopath while traveling because it mostly takes place at a single location. Dan and Mindy spend some time on the road driving and at the gas station, but the majority of Roadside is spent on the side of a remote road surrounded by the woods. In many cases single location films can get dull due to the lack of setting change and how much focus there is on dialogue. This was not the case with Roadside; I was engaged throughout the entire film because of how intense it was. It begins with a suspenseful scene, where an enraged driver almost runs the couple off of the road and the suspense builds from there.

The dialogue between Dan and Mindy was smooth and realistic (most of the time) and Marrero and Stegeman did a good job portraying the unhappy couple. Their performances were pretty believable. The characters were relatable and surprisingly well written. There were moments where the characters were unlikable, but it made them seem more genuine.

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One thing that I did not like in Roadside was the voice of the concealed maniac; it was very calm and proper sounding. One reason for the proper voice is to conceal the true identity of the sniper; another reason could be to make him sound more calculated and level headed- therefore making him seem more intimidating. Either way, I wasn’t a huge fan of the soothing voice. It sounded too comforting and took away from the intensity of the film. Another thing that bugged me about the voice was the level of volume. It sounded as if the sniper was standing right in front of Dan having a nice conversation with him, rather than hiding deep enough in the woods that he couldn’t be seen.

Roadside kept me on the edge of my seat. It was packed with suspense that kept my attention throughout the entire film. I found myself rooting for the characters because of how relatable they were. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but it is entertaining and well thought out. I would definitely watch Roadside again if I got the chance.

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