Road Games (2015) DVD Review

Road Games (1)ROAD GAMES (2015)

Director/Writer: Abner Pastoll

Cast: Andrew Simpson, Josephine de La Baume, Frederic Pierrot, Barbara Crampton

Running Time: 95 mins

UK DVD Release: 29th August 2016 from Icon & Frightfest Presents

A killer is on the loose in the French countryside. Jack (Simpson) and Veronique (de La Baume) are two hitchhikers who come across one another after Veronique’s lift goes badly wrong. A friendship is forged as they figure safety in numbers is better than travelling solo and then they meet Grizard (Pierrot). He agrees to give them a lift and provide hospitality at his country mansion but on arrival and after meeting his wife, Mary (Crampton), all is not quite as it appears.

Not to be mistaken as a remake of the Australian 1981 thriller, Road Games is a British-French co-production, executive produced by Crampton and directed by Pastoll who has previously directed short films and the thriller Shooting Shona (2004). The script is a mixture of French and English so subsequently subtitles are frequent and at times Jack’s lack of French vocabulary is used to moderately suspenseful effect. The cinematography by Eben Bolton follows the general rules of the horror genre with dusty, dimly-lit rooms littered with creepy art pieces plus several aerial shots early on in the story help convey just how isolated the characters are from seeking help when events take a darker aspect in the finale.

Road Games (2)Pastoll’s feature is competently made but sadly it suffers from a complete lack of any real tension. We have a lot of scenes of Jack and Veronique wandering around country lanes attempting to hitch lifts early on and very little actually happens until the final half-hour. Once the narrative moves location to the mansion, even then Pastoll fails to ignite any real sense of dread. For example, a mildly unsettling dinner scene where Crampton acts increasingly unhinged is neutered by an extremely odd tone and very sad to report, some rather bad acting.

Also, a scene involving a local farmer, whom may or may not have something to do with the murders, hints at a homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre but the film never runs with it and instead the viewer is left recalling a far scarier film. Daniel Elms’ music direction also needs mentioning as frequently it does not match the tone of the narrative and as such becomes very overbearing during sinister moments when perhaps silence may have better served the scene.

Road Games (3)Pastoll has stated his feature owes much to And Soon The Darkness (1970), another thriller which is similarly set in the French countryside but is about the disappearance of a young female cyclist. It also reminded this reviewer of Haute Tension (2003) but only very briefly and any recollections of that film were instantly quashed by an unintentionally comedic scene involving a hay bale. It is evident why Frightfest have championed this film considering its cast and storyline but after the excellent We Are Still Here (2015), it is sad to report that it is a minor misstep for Crampton and one which might be best forgotten by her legion of fans. Similarly, Pierrot has done better work on TV (Les Revenants) and Simpson fared better in last year’s, The Survivalist.

Road Games is not a film worth thumbing a lift for.

Rated: 4/10

Icon Film Distribution Enters Into Exclusive Partnership With FrightFest

iconICON FILM DISTRIBUTION ENTERS INTO EXCLUSIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH FRIGHTFEST

Icon Film Distribution (IFD) and FrightFest, the UK’s leading horror fantasy film festival, have entered into an exclusive partnership that will see IFD releasing FrightFest curated films under the banner ‘FrightFest Presents’.

In a move to expand the respected brand nationwide, select FrightFest endorsed films will be made available across the UK and Ireland via IFD’s digital partners (including Sky, iTunes, Amazon, Blinkbox, Film4OD, VirginMovies, TalkTalk, Google, Volta, and Eircom) giving film fans instant access to some of their favourite FrightFest titles. Each release will have the collective backing of IFD and FrightFest across marketing, PR and social channels. The partnership deal was negotiated by Zak Brilliant, Head of Theatrical, and Sophie Wong, TV and Digital Sales Manager, for Icon, and Greg Day and Ian Rattray, Directors of FrightFest.

Paul McEvoy, Co-Director of FrightFest says, “In expanding the FrightFest brand we are opening up new audiences for horror and fantasy, a genre which already has a clear, devoted and almost fanatical fan base. With Icon as our
partner and using their distribution channels, we are looking forward to talking to producers and sales companies about how FrightFest can get their films to more film fans.”

Ian Dawson, Icon Film Distribution CEO says, “Icon has always had a strong relationship with the FrightFest team, never more so than over the past 12 months when they, and their supporters, have been an integral part of our
launches for The Guest, The Babadook and It Follows. We have long admired their commitment to genre and the loyal community they have built up over the years. This partnership offers a great opportunity to work together behind new and exciting content, taking it to the widest possible audience, making their community a whole lot bigger.”

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Since FrightFest was set up 15 years ago, it has grown in size and stature, and today is internationally renowned for discovering exciting and original horror fantasy genre films. Last August, the festival screened 63 of the best horror films from around the world to UK audiences, with many world and European premieres. Over the years the festival directors, Greg Day, Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray, have also brought masters of the genre to the festival including Guillermo del Toro, George Romero, Dario Argento and Sam Raimi. FrightFest has developed into a brand leader for horror film, expanding its footprint in the UK by hosting special strands at other festivals to great success, such as the established three-day event at the Glasgow Film Festival.

IFD has a longstanding track record in releasing genre films, from breakout hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY which grossed a phenomenal £10 million at the UK box office to the cult vampire thriller 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, as well as re-issues of classic Hammer titles including DRACULA and THE MUMMY. Most recently, IFD released the critical box office hit IT FOLLOWS as well as THE BABADOOK, Jennifer Kent’s psychological horror story, which burst out of FrightFest’s August festival to become one of the most talked about horrors of 2014.

Select titles for the joint venture will be announced over the coming weeks.