The Road, written by Yam Laranas and Aloy Adlawan and directed by Yam Laranas, is about, strangely enough, a road. This particular desolate stretch of road is the location of three specific horrific incidents, neatly packaged within the movie as “Part 1”, “Part 2” and “Part 3”. This is interesting because it explicitly marks the three act structure breaks of the longer narrative while also allowing the movie to work as some kind of self contained trilogy. The long form narrative that ties the three separate parts together is the story of Luis(TJ Trinidad), a freshly honored police officer who is tasked with solving the murder of two teenagers and finding a third, missing teenager. The trilogy portion tells the story of three related incidents that take place exactly ten years apart, 1988, 1998, and 2008. To explain the rest would be to rob you of what really works in The Road, tension.
That tension is created and maintained through the capable visual direction of Yam Laranas. His obvious visual sensibility, allows the horror scenes in The Road to be particularly horrific and, yes, tense. To elicit an elevated heartbeat and a goose-bump or two is the true measure of success in the horror genre. The Road provided both of those things in spades. What doesn’t work on an expository or character level is quickly forgiven, if not forgotten completely, when the scenes of horror unfold.
To be clear though, The Road does fail at several important aspects. Firstly, it is full of people making foolish decisions for no other reason except that it moves the action along. If you are one of those people who can’t stand when characters do stupid things in horror movies, you may want to steer clear of The Road entirely as this thing is populated by nothing but. Secondly, the actual editing seems sloppy and borderline incoherent throughout the film. Sometimes it feels like a shot was missed during production so it was simply skipped over. Other times it feels like the camera isn’t completely sure where it should be, waffling awkwardly from spot to spot. In either case, that technical downfall manages to pull the viewer out of the action on several occasions.
Those weaknesses aside, though, The Road managed to work as an effective horror movie because of one, seemingly obvious, element, the horror. As clunky as the methods used to get us into the horror sequences, the scenes themselves are shot amazingly well and work on a deep emotional level the audience will probably not expect. That emotional level is developed and escalated by a thing that typically ruins horror movies, explanation of evil. To be fair, there is no question that without the explanation of the horrific, the separate narratives of The Road would still stand. When those explanations are introduced, though, Laranas and company manage to avoid lessening the horror, which is the typical narrative result, and somehow manage to elevate it.
At the heart of The Road is the concept of consequence. The consequence of choices, and, more importantly, the consequence of human interaction. This allows the explanation of evil to move beyond a dark force that has descended on some unlucky teens. That evil becomes a result of something, a real life event that could have just as easily been avoided. One person and one moment can start a chain-reaction of evil that spreads out and affects anyone who makes the mistake of unknowingly walking within its path. When we, as a society, are confronted with real evil we can’t help but feel uneasy. We want it explained away, lessened to a string of variables so we can believe we are all safe. The Road examines that societal feeling and does what real life cannot, it explains the sequence of evil. When the credits roll though, there is no feeling of safety. There is only the feeling that sometimes evil explained is much, much worse than the evil that hides in the darkness.