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Road Games
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Summertime and the living is deadly! Abner Pastoll channels AND SOON THE DARKNESS and MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY with his tense thriller feature debut set in rural France that touches every twisted nerve. When hitchhiker Jack rescues Véronique from a road rage altercation, the twosome decide to travel together for safety’s sake after learning a serial killer is cutting a murderous swathe through the region. Tired and hungry, they decide against their better judgment to take up an offer to stay the night at a mysterious elderly couple’s mansion…

Road Games online movie review - Road Games

Road Games offers a curious fusion of styles, seasoned by the French sensibility of its eccentric characters. It's an unusual recipe, but it works brilliantly.

I frequently complain about films with poorly established and badly developed characters, but Road Games is the exact opposite... it takes itself more than one hour for us to get plunged into the experiences and past of Jack, Veronique and their bizarre hosts, through long conversations which help us to decipher their personalities and speculate on the secrets they are hiding. Road Games is one of those movies in which everyone knows more than they seem to; at the same time, those paused scenes create an ethereal and strange atmosphere which intentionally confuses the meaning of the oblique comments and looks exchanged between the characters. It's like a dream we can't wake up from... even though we know it's about to become a nightmare. During the third act, we have various twists which genuinely surprised me... specially because some of them are decoys to keep the mystery on the killer's identity. And even though the suspense is kept until the end, it's never intensified too much; director Abner Pastoll prefers to "simmer" the movie, refraining from shocks and graphic violence in order to keep that nightmarish sensation. Besides, the actors make a good work in their roles. Andrew Simpson feels credible as Jack, who travels without any luggage and occasionally tries to clean a red residue on his nails. Might it be blood? Mmh... Barbara Crampton (whom I will forever associate to Re-Animator and From Beyond, two of my favorite films) bring an appropriately ambiguous aura to her character; I like to see her so active in contemporary horror after such a long absence (just in the last 5 years, I have also seen her in You're Next, The Lords of Salem, Tales of Halloween and We Are Still Here). Joséphine de la Baume (who had already left me quite impressed in the excellent Kiss of the Damned) displays a good level of emotional complexity in her role, while Frédéric Pierrot solidly makes us doubt whether his character is mentally unbalanced or smarter than he seems, and Féodor Atkine makes a perfect work as the classic neighbor obsessed with taxidermy. So, in conclusion, I think Road Games deserves a place along with other French horror gems from 21st century (such as Martyrs -2008-, À l'intérieur and Haute Tension), because I found it a fascinating experience full of suspense, mystery and artistic vision (oh, and have I mentioned the extraordinary music from Daniel Elms?). I give it an enthusiastic recommendation, mainly to the fans of retro "euro-horror", relatively lacking of blood, and more focused on atmosphere, texture and character. Oh, and it was shot in the UK, so in fact, it's "faux French", with a South African director and a "giallo" concept borrowed from Italy. Nobody can blame Road Games for lacking of diversity.

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