Road Kill, an Australian import directed by Dean Francis, was originally called Road Train, a title that would have little significance to American audiences. It is violent, blood-soaked, and—at times—revolting, but after a somewhat goofy start, it grabs our attention and forces us to see it through.
Four moody teenagers (two boys and two girls, of course) are touring the Australian outback in an SUV when a “road train” (a huge truck with two trailers) comes up behind them, rams the back of their vehicle, then passes them. For some reason they think catching up to the vehicle, passing it, and screaming at the driver that he’s a bastard will settle the score. The driver doesn’t agree, and again repeatedly rams them until he sends their vehicle flipping over off the road. Perhaps if they had noticed the three-headed-dog ornament they would not have been so cavalier.
One of the boys has a severe arm injury (the kind that makes your stomach clench when you see it), their car is wrecked, and they’re miles from civilization. The good news is that they have at least a week’s worth of supplies and someone is sure to happen upon them.
When the kids notice that giganto-truck has stopped by the side of the road, they approach the cab and find that there’s no one in it. There are keys and a radio, but of course they don’t try to summon help. As they inspect the truck, shots ring out and an armed man comes running toward them. Their escape plan consists of hijacking the truck. One peril follows another as the story frequently jackknifes, often leaving the viewer wondering what is real and what is not.
If all this sounds ridiculous, it is. But it’s also suspenseful, and the viewer will hang in just to see where the filmmakers are going with it. Since nothing is as it seems, we crave closure.
Viewers should be prepared for a lot of blood and sticky bits. Suffice it to say that when the movie ends the audience will not be in the mood for rare steaks and Hawaiian Punch. Some audience members may consider joining the Girl Guides. If you pay attention to the entire film, you will know where it’s all heading. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to figure it out. This kind of thing is so much more enjoyable without the mental gymnastics. While the ending is somewhat predictable, it does not fail to satisfy as it neatly wraps up this extravagant exercise in gore.
Road Kill will be released under the Fangoria Frightfest Banner in conjunction with Lightning Media on September 28. The advance copy I viewed did not include any extra features and there is no mention of any in the promotional materials; it is unlikely any will be included in the final release.
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent Road Kill? While I wouldn’t make a special trip down to the video rental store (do people still do that?) or want to spend theater-ticket prices on it, it is definitely a film I would catch streaming.