Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Road (2009) - Horror Film Review

So I saw The Road last night. Yet another post apocalyptic film (strange that two have been released at the same time; this and The Book of Eli). I had no idea what this film was about, or even what age rating it was, I saw it based on the fact it was post apocalyptic.

A man and his 10 year old son are travelling south in the USA. They are travelling south as the world is getting colder, and it is warmer south. That is the basic story of the film. Along their journey they encounter roving bands of cannibals and thugs, as well as other innocents. The apocalypse in this film seems to be one of a new ice age, rather than the War of The Book of Eli. The world is getting colder, is plagued with constant earthquakes, everything is destroyed with most animals, plants and trees all dead. The version of the post apocalyptic world is far more in line with Fallout 3.

Water is a constant. It is constantly raining, houses are flooded, water is everywhere. I'm sure this is symbolism for something though I'm too stupid to figure it out. The film for the most part concentrates totally on the relationship between the father and son. The father sees his child as God and will do absolutly anything to protect him, even kill him. Coming from pre apocalypse the man has no hope, his son is the only reason he is alive. Through flash backs it is shown his wife commited suicide due to losing all hope, and that it was only due to the man that she didn't take her son with her. The film is very downbeat, the father is suspicious of everyone, even benign innocents he angrily confronts, always with the paranoid cry of "why are you following us?". His faith in everything is long gone, and he is powerless for the most part. Encountering a basement full of emaciated prisoners kept alive as a food source for cannibals he makes no attempt to save them, he and his son hide as a gang of bandits chase a woman and her child across a field, not even wincing when she's caught and her screams begin. The boy on the other hand has never known any other world than the Hell they are in, he still has hope, and faith in people.

There is a beautiful part in the film which nearly brought me to tears, can't remember who says it, but it's basically that the person who dreams horrid dreams has nothing to worry about, it is the person who dreams only of beautiful things that is in danger, as it shows they have lost all interest in their life (or some such thing). Many times during the film brightly lit, joyous flashbacks of the man and his wife back before the world ended are shown, and then abruptly ended when the man wakes up and it is revealed it was him dreaming. The contrast between heaven and hell is such a difference.

If I had one thing negative to say about the film it is that the ending is stupid, an unrealistic deus ex machina of an ending which felt out of place in contrast to the relative realism of the rest of the film. The film is quite uneventful, but this is purposeful, the man aims to avoid danger, and it is only by accident that he ever finds himself involved in events.

This and The Book of Eli could be set in the same universe as far as I can tell, apart from the obvious polar opposites of what the post apocalyptic world is. This even has a character called Eli in it (this time an old man, rather than Denzel Washington). Many references to God also litter this, though not so much as in The Book of Eli. The general theme being in this film that if there is a God he is either dead, or just no longer cares about humanity.
A film that makes you question the point of life, downbeat, depressing, with little hope, little action, and the insignificance of life on Earth.



jana_long said...

Im not sure if The Stepfather is considered a horror flick- but it was pretty awesome. I liked the new one better than the first-

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