There are only a few elements that can make or break an indie horror film and in most cases we see one of these scenarios: Great script with horrible direction, Great script with great director and horrible cast, a great cast and director but horrible script. It normally just takes one of these elements to be out of whack to really ruin a potentially great film. But there are rare occasions where these elements line up perfectly giving the viewer one helluva entertaining film.
Jake’s Road is a cross between Indian Summer and Friday the 13th. It follows the story of Sam (Garrett Hines) who’s going up to see his brother, Michael, and childhood friends that used to hang out at this camp his family owned. As a child his parents died in a car crash and the family that worked at the camp and lived on their land, took the brothers in and helped run the camp.
Well after all these years Sam and Michael have gathered all their friends to the camp to tell them that they are going to sell the camp. Not everyone is happy about the decision, to say the least. Not long after, the now grown campers start dropping dead at the hands of a camouflage-wearing, knife wielding, killer.
Yes this sounds very formulaic, but what is interesting is how writer / director Mike Mayhall takes the formula and twists it in just a way to make you stop and think, this isn’t supposed to happen this way, and you end up being just as surprised as the characters. It was a very weird feeling watching the film, it was like watching something very familiar, yet surprisingly different all at once. I honestly can’t remember feeling this way after watching a film, like the film was smarter than me or making me feel uncomfortable because it was going off the formulaic path and leading me out into the unknown woods for dead. For me, someone who’s been watching horror and thrillers for over 35 years, and prides themselves on predicting early on how the trickster behind the camera is going to try and throw me for a loop, I was truly thrown and that never happens.
Besides the cool twists and turns the film is visually stunning. With plenty of camera movement, and cool camera set-ups, this really helps the overall uneasiness of watching the film. I wont linger on this to long because anyone who reads my reviews knows I’m a visual horror fan and I can write all day about certain setups, and camera moves, so I will refrain.
The cast is brilliant, there is not a bad soap opera actor amongst them, and they all bring depth and honesty to the characters they are portraying. I must say the stand out performances here are Garrett Hines, as Sam, being able to pull off the loving sensitive finance, and the next minute pleading for his girls life with heartfelt emotion and believability. The other is Ashton Leigh, well simply because, for some strange reason, I fell in love with her character. I can’t tell you why since it was a small part and this never happens to me watching a film, but I was really devastated when “something happens” to her character, so for her to put that much emotion into me she must have done something right, or just super cute, but we’ll chalk it up to talent!
Jake’s Road is certainly one of the contenders for my best of 2014 list. I highly recommend this movie for any horror or thriller fan that wants be thrown off the beaten to death trail, and like me, I hope you get lost and never find your way back.
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JAKE’S ROAD 2014 Review: Contender For Top 10 Of 2014
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