ROAD HEAD ** USA 2020 Dir: David Del Rio. 84 mins
Comedy is difficult to write well , often it’s a matter of hit and miss. This one is a miss for me, perhaps not for the twenties somethings or people that pattern their lives after the “white bread’ television series “Friends.” You can tell a director or writer’s personality from what they put on the page or screen. Well, in ROAD HEAD (2020) you learn that director David Del Rio and writer Justin Xavier Smith enjoy oral sex while driving. The film’s title is a reference to the activity and it occurs literally (no pun intended) as the ‘climax’ of the scenes.
The film begins with a pointless prologue of a couple driving to a party in the desert that indulge in a moment of “road head,” only to meet a tragic end. The couple are heterosexual, yet for some reason the film makers thought they had to open with this to prepare you for the gay couple. Does it matter in horror or in life? I would suggest not. It led me to think this footage was used to pad the film’s length.
The picture shifts to the three friends (I promise never again to use it). Alex (Damien Joseph Quinn) and Bryan (Clayton Farris) are a gay couple who have taken their friend Stephanie (Elizabeth Grullon) on a road trip to what’s supposed to be a lakeside holiday. Dialogue is delivered in a good style as they all drive. Jokes about using a paper map instead of G.P.S. and relationships. You get the usual clichés, “I am smoking drugs because it’s cool and I want to forget my shitty relationship.” The story is also written for an audience that thinks the mobile phone is life as at one point Stephanie screams, “Who gets out of their car without their phone?”
When they arrive, they discover that the lake has dried up and is now a desert. One wonders why it did not occur to them in the first place after hours of driving. Lurking in the desert there is a guy dressed as a Viking that is decapitating people with a big sword.
Predictably, the trio meet the sword guy and a decapitation is well handled, followed by a lot of running around in the desert, revelations about love and a hunt for yes, a mobile phone. They end up meeting a group of moronic villains that include a cross dresser who have formed a cult in a compound surrounded by rusted vehicles that they have plundered. Titillation is Elizabeth offering to get the leader of the cult’ hard first when she is recruited to have babies. Alex meanwhile is battling the desert and trying to help Elizabeth get away. The events that follow and payoff are just too dumb.
ROAD HEAD’s (2020) screenplay doesn’t know what it wants to be or in fact why? The story seems like a patchwork of” Let’s get high and write stuff because we can make a cult movie.” This is ridiculous and given the budget, production values and general look of the picture it becomes a waste of resources of the highest order. Some will say this is a mindless popcorn horror film which does have some practical effects. That’s not enough for me and it shouldn’t be for audiences. Put any crap together because you can, package it well, and it becomes a cult film to be shown a special screening at conventions, etc. That’s what this is and honestly it shows no responsibility from the film makers or respect for the genre or audience.
I gave the film two stars because of the colors and it provided employment. Elizabeth Grullon, who plays Stephanie, shows she can handle action and dialogue. After a while, though, you may turn her screeching voice down. You can’t make a cult film. Your film becomes one over time.
Review by Terry Sherwood