Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Road Train (2010)

aka Road Kill

The usual quartet of late teens - usefully building two couples with problems - goes for a camping trip in the Outback. Not everything is alright between them, but unless you're a hardcore jealousy nut, you probably won't care about that.

Our heroes meet and greet an especially big truck whose driver seems out for blood more than usual in his line of work. There's a crash, our heroes' trusty jeep is totalled, one of their number hurt, and it looks like their trip will end in a total disaster. In a seeming stroke of luck, at least the truck that hit them has parked a little ways off.

Curiously, the vehicle is empty. After some faffing about, the gang decide to just take the truck and go, a decision that turns out to be quite sound when the former owner of the the vehicle appears and begins to shoot at them.

That's just the beginning of the friends' problems, though. Soon enough, they are stranded in the middle of nowhere without water or food, the mad man's still after them, and the truck begins to have a malevolent influence on everyone. Hallucinations of wolves are had, scenery is chewed. Which is quite typical for a film with trucks running on dead bodies instead of petrol, I suppose.

At the point of my movie-watching career I have reached now, a film needs to deliver quite a bit of nonsense to still register as nonsensical to me, but Road Train jumps over that hurdle fast and with an enthusiasm seldom shown by films not made in Italy in the last century. Characters that make no sense do things that make no sense that might or might not be influenced by a supernatural evil that does neither make sense nor is explained nor even speculated about; in fact, none of the characters ever asks the obvious question: "What the fuck's going on here?". Everyone seems too preoccupied with shouting for that.

Instead of being allowed to do anything sensible, the film's beleaguered actors are roped into scene after scene of screaming and grimacing, with a bit of bickering and grunting thrown in for good measure. These poor people are doing their jobs well enough, with all the hysterical enthusiasm one could hope for in an actor, reminding me of pretty muppets on speed. That's a compliment, mind you, because it's hardly the actors' fault that the film's script was written on a napkin and does not include luxury like character motivation. A thespian must do what a thespian must do in cases like this: SHOUT AND JUMP AND ROLL HER EYES MADLY!

On a certain level, I'm really pretty impressed by Road Train. It isn't every day I find a movie that is so prettily filmed, and seems so professionally done on the surface as it does, yet has a script completely devoid of even the most basic knowledge of characterisation (Who are these people? Why are they doing what they are doing? Do they have any psychological traits to keep them apart?), plotting (Why? Who? What the hell?), or really, anything else you'd expect from a script. Random teleportation and hallucinated wolves add further depth to the script's confusion.

Being as obtuse as this one is is no mean feat, and if you're like me and love films whose mere existence spits into the face of order and propriety, you just might have a fine time with Road Train, or even start a full-grown revolution during which you stuff dead bodies in the body mill in the back of your truck like they did in your new favourite film.

If, on the other hand, you expect your films to be at least vaguely coherent, you might just want to give Road Train a miss.


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