The Curse Of Buckout Road


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Curse Of Buckout Road
"What starts out as a fairly straightforward horror thriller is enriched by Matthew Currie Holmes's fantastic dream/flashback scenes, which are a real treat for genre fans."

Cleo (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is a gothy looking teenager still burdened by the death of her mother five years ago and her overprotective father. Aaron (Even Ross) is a soldier on leave and the son of her father's best friend, who also happens to be her psychologist. When they meet on the steps up to the latter's office there's instantly something between them. It's couched in the terms of casual flirtation, but the actors give it something else - it's almost as if these two young people already know each other.

One of Cleo's teachers is trying to inspire critical thinking by getting her students to study urban legends. The area is rich in them, but after starting work on the project, Cleo finds herself haunted by strange, distressing dreams which hint at something more. It soon becomes clear that she's not the only one having them, and the young people affected become all the more concerned when they uncover events buried in the town't secret history that seem to correspond to what they've been dreaming about. Before long, dreams begin to merge with brutal reality and it's up to Cleo and Aaron to try and figure out what's happening and bring it to an end before the former's dreams lead her too into the grave.

What starts out as a fairly straightforward horror thriller owing something to A Nightmare On Elm Street is enriched by Matthew Currie Holmes's fantastic dream/flashback scenes, which are a real treat for genre fans. the effects used are fairly simple but the way they come together to recreate the fevered atmosphere of previous generations of horror film - especially in the Seventies-set scenes - is just delightful. Although he never quite crosses over into comedy territory, there's a joyous self-awareness here that helps to endear us to the characters and stay with them through the more straightforward - albeit twisty - sequences that follow. There are also cute references to other films and horror literature which don't interrupt the flow of the film or make it any less accessible to less knowledgeable viewers.

With themes that touch on domestic abuse, historical attempts to limit the freedoms of women, and slavery, The Curse Of Buckout Road has its roots in real horror and doesn't pretend that everything is better today, firmly positioning its heroes as outsiders not just by way of the usual adults dismissing the younger generation schtick. Aaron is an interesting take on the soldier in trouble at home motif that we've seen a lot in US films of late because he isn't presented as mentally ill and nor is he prone to macho bullshit - instead he's wary of violence and tries to stay out of trouble wherever he can by calming situations down. It's rare to see such a sensible character in film of this type. Holmes doesn't need to rely on frantic actors to communicate danger because he's mastered the rituals of the genre, switching from one pattern to another as we move through his intersecting worlds.

As a consequence of this unusual structure, watching this film sometimes feels like playing a video game. You'll find yourself reaching for your controller as lurching figures make their way across the screen. Unusually, this adds to the fun rather than detracting from it, and contributes to underlying themes about rebellion against the pat and the impositions it makes on life today. Towards the end there's some theological discussion that doesn't quite seem to tally with the rest of what we've seen, but the bones of the thing still hang together and it delivers an entertaining ride.

Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2019
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The Curse Of Buckout Road packshot
A college class project on creation and destruction of modern myth, turns terrifying when a trio of young people come to realise the urban legends surrounding the famed Buckout Road may, in fact, be real.

Director: Matthew Currie Holmes

Writer: Shahin Chandrasoma, Matthew Currie Holmes

Starring: Evan Ross, Henry Czerny, Dominique Provost-Chalkley

Year: 2017

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Canada


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