Road Train (Dean Francis, 2010)
Man, Road Train, released in America as Road Kill, is getting savaged on the Internet. It has a 3.8 rating on IMDb as I write this (Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have enough reactions, either critically or from the public, to form an opinion yet), and the reviews and comment board are full of bile. [Note: between the writing of this review and the publishing of it, I have discovered the Syfy Channel repackaged this as a Syfy Original Movie; suddenly a lot of the above makes a lot more sense.] Now, I grant you, I am coming into this movie as an existing fan of both Sophie Lowe (The Clinic) and Xavier Samuel (The Loved Ones), so I was kind of partial to the movie before I even hit play (and noting on IMDB that Samuel was also in Eclipse clarifies a lot of things about the movie’s chilly reception), and you know what? Now that I’ve finished it, I still don’t see the problem. It’s certainly not the most original movie in the world, though most of these demon-car flicks put one traveler up against the Satanic vehicle (The Appointment, Duel, and the third segment of Nightmares all come to mind) while this one puts a quartet of friends up against the possessed Road Train (in America, you probably know the Road Train as a triple-decker or stacked semi—it’s where one cab is hauling two or three semi trailers) in question, and once you realized what other flick it’s crossed the Duel conventions with, it becomes predictable enough. But solid acting, excellent cinematography, and a better-than-average script powered this one right on through the night.
Plot: four friends—Marcus (Samuel), Nina (Lowe), Craig (Home and Away‘s Bob Morley), and Liz (Crawl‘s Georgina Haig)—are on a camping trip in the Outback when they get into an accident. Well, kind of an accident. The titular monster truck trashes their car and leaves them stranded, mostly uninjured (Craig has a broken arm) but shaken. They set out to find the nearest civilization, but come upon the truck, seemingly abandoned. “Seemingly.” Lacking other transportation, and with the truck’s driver sniping at them from the desert, the four friends decide to take the nearest available transport—but soon discover the truck is not what it seems to be…
…and what it is is pretty obvious if you’re seen the movie poster. Or, for that matter, read the first paragraph of this review. The movie distinguishes itself by going deeper into that malevolent, disembodied intelligence than most movies of this strip do; all you know about the trucks in the movies mentioned at the top of this review is that their drivers, or devils, are out to kill the protagonists. Here, we have a group rather than an individual, letting said intelligence work in a more insidious fashion, playing mental and emotional games with the protagonists instead of just going on a balls-out attack all the time. You may have seen it all before, but not necessarily put together in this way; absolutely worth a watch. Don’t let the Internet put you off it. *** ½