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Home | Film Reviews | Asian Reviews | Film Review: Haunted Road (Yuàn líng) (2014)

Film Review: Haunted Road (Yuàn líng) (2014)

SYNOPSIS:

Seven young people see a car accident on the way to a friend’s wedding, and they do not try to rescue the wounded. Their car breaks down soon after and horrible things occur one after another.

REVIEW:

Haunted Road is a 2014 Chinese horror directed by Yijian Tong. It tries very hard to use horror as a medium to tell a deeper tale of love, fear and the nature of humans, but unfortunately fails miserably in both horror and storytelling departments. (Spoilers a plenty, so be aware.)

The film starts at the scene of a car accident. Passers-by, a group of friends on their way to another friend’s wedding, have stopped to see what has happened. However, instead of actually investigating whether anyone in the car is still alive, calling for help or doing anything that a normal, decent human being would do, they decide to keep on driving and leave the wreckage and its victims laying on the deserted road. Not long after their own car breaks down and the group is forced to stop at a near by service station.  Again, normal human reactions fail to manifest themselves as the friends soon find all the services abandoned.

For most people this would seem a little weird, maybe even a little bit alarming, and they would probably at least try to investigate what could have possibly happened for this rather large station to be deserted like that. But not the fantastic seven. Oh no. Instead, they raid the local shop for booze and snacks and have themselves a party; you know, as you do after you’ve just witnessed a horrible accident on the highway. Also, none of these winners of human evolution seem very concerned about the fact that no one has seen a single car passed by since they got to the station; a fact that might have a set some alarm bells ringing in a rational person’s head, but hey, why bother yourself with such mundane things when there’s free booze and a credit card you stole from a car wreck victim.

But of course, Haunted Road is a horror film after all, so as you might have guessed our seven heroes soon start dropping like flies as they get haunted by what we can all assume is the ghost of the person they so kindly left for dead. I exaggerate slightly though, “like flies” does not quite describe the pace of these very boring killings. There is much more childish selfishness to get through before we actually start seeing corpses.  I suppose these scenes with the characters quarrelling amongst each other and going through their various love entanglements are supposed to make their obnoxiously selfish behaviour even more obvious, but there’s really no need for it. They left a person for dead on the side of the road! Even the stupidest audience members get the point.

Everybody does end up getting what’s coming to them, but not fast enough and quite honestly, not  gruesome enough either. I mean, these people are truly abhorrent human beings. You really just want to see them die in the most horrible ways. Unfortunately, that satisfaction is never forthcoming and while everyone does die, it doesn’t really appease the hunger of wanting to see these idiots get their comeuppance. Lot of it is to do the rather dragging pacing of the film but the dreadfully bad acting does also have a lot to answer for.  It not just one or two actors either; everybody is just simply terrible. Whether this is due to directing (According to IMDb Haunted Road is Yijian Tong’s debut film) or the actors themselves, it’s hard to say. Whatever the case, I can’t quite recall seeing performances so unilaterally terrible in quite some time. If Haunted Road didn’t suffer from such significant pacing issues, it could almost be so bad that goes right back being good again, but sadly this is not the case. It’s just plain bad.

So, are there any redeeming features? No, not that this reviewer can think of. Cinematography is very pedestrian and not even really worth mentioning, soundtrack is overly dramatic and sentimental and considering this is supposed to be a horror film, scares are pretty much non-existing.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend.

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