Road Trip is a short horror film installment in the AO-Terror-OA horror anthology web series. If you’re interested enough in short films to have clicked on this review, you likely only have a couple of minutes to spare, so here’s the Cliff Notes version of my review.
First off, here’s the quick and dirty synopsis, direct from the film’s YouTube page: “The classic Kiwi summer road trip is a memorable experience for many New Zealanders, visiting amazing locations with good friends. But what happens when your campervan turns from a pleasure vehicle to a prison…. and how long do you have to be confined in a small space together before your best mates become your deadliest enemies…?”
Let’s discuss the pros, shall we?
Now, the film automatically receives points from me for using an entire production team and cast from New Zealand. Thanks to Shudder, I’ve realized that there is some seriously good shit being made in countries outside of the U.S., and that includes New Zealand and Australia.
The acting is really solid throughout the entire 12+ minute running time—not something you often find in indie short horror flicks.
The cinematography is also very well done. Road Trip never felt like a cheap, poorly shot, half-assed iPhone attempt (although some really great stuff has been shot with an iPhone).
There were a few cheesy digital effects shots, but I suppose that’s to be expected with low budget shorts. However, the film also has some decent practical effects and some downright sickening scenes, visually (if you have a thing about bodily fluids…).
I don’t feel strongly enough about the following points to call them cons, so let’s call them “areas of opportunity in my humble opinion.”
The writing took me on a bit of a roller coaster. I mean, the film starts out with a bunch of friends sitting in front of their R.V., planning to go on a remote road trip. Not exactly a fresh idea, but hey, I love watching a bunch of horny friends getting hacked to bits by a backwoods maniac as much as the next guy.
The next scene shattered my hopes of seeing a slasher, but that’s okay because it totally blew me away with a pretty unique and spooky premise (I don’t want to say more because it’s a really unnerving concept). AO-Terror-OA promotes their shorts as Black Mirror meets Country Calendar. For this portion of the plot, I think that’s a spot-on assessment. I actually got a bit of a Houses That October Built feel at this point.
From there, we get about 7 minutes of tension-building and then the “final act” hits us. This is really the only major criticism I have. The film starts out a bit cliché, which is fine because it goes in a totally unexpected and clever direction, but then it wraps up with another clichéd, tired maneuver right out of the “Thriller Movie Handbook.” While the film has a definite beginning, middle and end, I would have much rather preferred an ambiguous ending for this one. You know—the kind that makes you Google “INSERT FILM TITLE HERE ending explained.” It’s just my opinion, but I felt a little cheated by the ending. There are plenty of folks who, I’m sure, will dig it.
In closing, Road Trip is a really solid effort, and regardless of how you’ll feel about the ending, it’s totally worth the twelve minutes it takes to watch it, and for me, personally, it’s more than good enough for me to continue to follow the AO-Terror-OA anthology series. Ultimately, I give Road Trip 3 out of 5 stars.