We've all felt it before. The nervousness you get when driving on the freeway and an eighteen-wheeler comes roaring up behind you. It's this kind of tension that came across so well in Steven Spielberg's 1972 Made-for-TV classic Duel and has been used to varying degrees of success over the years. Which is why, upon seeing the poster, I was fully prepared for Road Kill to deliver some vehicular horror. If you're going to base most of your film around a snarling, imposing big rig then you should focus on that rather than throwing in a mostly incoherent plot more concerned with demonic possession and numerous scenes of the rig sloooowwwly backing up than gas powered terror. What a frigging mess this turned out to be. I was expecting something similar to Duel and instead don't know what the f*ck I got.
When we meet Craig (Bob Morley), his best pal Marcus (Xavier Samuel), and their girlfriends Nina (Sophie Lowe) and Liz (Georgina Haig) they're camping their way across the Australian outback. When heading out one morning they are thrown into a quick cat-and-mouse game with a "Road Train" (the Aussie term for big rigs as well as the flick's original title) which eventually flips them off the road after ramming them a few times. Stuck in the middle of nowhere in the blazing heat with Marcus injured as well as having no wheels, the four of them soon spot the truck parked nearby and set out to investigate and get some answers.
As if the script wasn't off to a rough enough start since the characters are pricks from the get go and nothing really makes sense it only manages to get worse when, upon arriving at the rig, they find it empty and have to drive off in it when a man with a gun runs at them firing. Yes, it's as stupid as it sounds. To add insult to injury they get stuck on a winding hillside road, the truck seems to be having some evil influence over everyone making them do bad things to each other, and we sit around getting angrier and angrier. There are a few moments of bloodiness along the way (including an okay looking stitched-up face) and a pretty bizarre attempt at some gross out gore in the final third involving a grinding machine they find in the trailer but it still can't make up for the fact there's little flow to everything, I was constantly confused (logic be damned, I suppose), and there's absolutely no way to wring thrills from scenes showing a truck driving at ten-miles-per-hour.
Already having enough problems with the rest of the movie it's also not a good thing when the cast is just as weak. Of course, this might also be the fault of Clive Hopkins' writing. If you're going to toss us into a survival situation with some people for 90 minutes you should probably make them empathetic and somewhat likable. Not a chance of that here. The girls are annoying, Morley's Craig is a wuss, and only Samuel seems to be trying as he gets to act evil while shirtless and covered in fake blood. He'd go on to co-star in The Loved Ones and Bait. In fact, despite the performances here, the rest of the young cast would get regular roles on television: Morley in "The 100", Lowe in "The Returned", and Haig in "Once Upon a Time".
It's pretty obvious I really disliked Road Kill. The only reason I checked it out was because it was part of Fangoria's 2010 "Fright Fest" line-up where one of eight horror flicks was given the chance to play theatrically based on reader votes. Looking at the others on the list, I think I should have probably started by watching either [Rec] co-director Jaume Balaguero's The Fragile or Jason X helmer James Isaac's Pig Hunt - instead I had a miserable time with this stinker. (Chris Hartley, 6/16/15)
Directed By: Dean Francis.
Written By: Clive Hopkins.
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Bob Morley, Georgina Haig, Sophie Lowe.