Director: Eric England
Writer: Eric England
Studio: Southern Fried Films, Swim With The Fish Productions, Dunn-Rite Productions
Roadside may have indie roots and a tiny budget but this movie offers massive thrills and a unique concept reminiscent of the films of Hitchcock.
Written and directed by Eric England (of Madison County fame), Roadside stars Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman as Dan and Mindy Summers, a young married couple with a child on the way traveling through the mountains to see their families for Christmas. Things quickly turn into a nightmare as an unknown gunman sets his sights on the couple and holds them on the side of the road against their will. As the cold sets in and their gas starts to run low the young couple must find a way to escape before they find out how far the gunman is willing to go.
Roadside is a minimalist’s wet dream. Nearly all of the movie takes place in one location with very few characters, but the plot moves along at a perfect pace to keep things from getting stale. Eric England has definitely grown as a filmmaker since Madison County. Roadside is more mature than his previous film in nearly every way, but the things that really stood out were the cinematography and the score. This film had some very cool shots and could easily pass for a big studio film. The gunman is shrouded in the darkness in the woods but seeing through his night vision rifle scope adds a very unnerving element to an already riveting film. The score is also very impressive, always adding tension and drama but never getting in the way of the dialogue.
The characters themselves are well written and very believable. Dan is a perfect male lead that most guys should have no problem relating to. Ace Marrero brought him to life in a way that makes him seem like someone you know, not just a fictional creation. Mindy is very lovable thanks to Katie Stegeman’s charm and their chemistry together would have you believe they have known each other for years.
The only complaint I had with Roadside was the dialogue between the gunman and Dan. At times it was tense but there were more than a couple lines that are jarring and out of tone with the rest of the scene. Fortunately it is not enough to take you completely out of the movie, but it was distracting.
Roadside will be appearing at festivals across the country over the next few months so you should definitely seek it out and watch it. It is a great indie thriller that proves less can definitely be more. Roadside will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end and is a huge step forward for independent filmmakers, proving you do not need a massive budget to deliver a truly entertaining film.
Review written by: Justin Proper