Though it’s not going to blow your car doors off, ROAD KILL (originally called ROAD TRAIN before Fangoria decided to make it part of their Frightfest series last year) is a fun and inventive tale of road terror. The concept of a driverless vehicle has been around for ages (the excellent DUEL and campy cool THE CAR are the first to come to mind, then much later with lesser efforts like CHRISTINE and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE), but I have to give the makers of this one credit for being somewhat inventive about the concept of wheels powered by the unseen forces of evil. Filled with ideas that I’d love to have seen more elaboration on, ROAD KILL never seems to match the velocity of its potential.
Not that I’m a fan of obvious over-explained horror, but there are a few too many questions in ROAD KILL that are left unanswered for me. Obviously, this truck is haunted and it tends to run people off the road then possess them into continuing the ride down the lonely highway. The desolate Australian outback proved to be an awesome backdrop for the ROAD WARRIOR and it serves to the same effect in this film. Director Dean Francis does a good job of isolating a quartet of twenty-somethings in this predicament in the vast landscape.
The actors do a decent job with this one, especially Georgina Haig (who effortlessly alternates between vulnerable and deadly) and Bob Morley (who has a sort of dangerous leading man quality that seems to come from all Australian male actors these days). But there’s an awful lot of time spent developing a sort of love quadrangle between the four stars. In fact, I’d have loved to see a bit less of the lyrics from the J. Geils Band’s LOVE STINKS song playing out in this one and more explanation as to why this rig runs on blood and seems to have guts instead of an engine.
Though the relationship stuff slows things down, there are enough creepy scenes in ROAD KILL to make this stand out among your typical haunted vehicle yarns. Making the rig into some kind of organic monstrosity is original, but not realized to its fullest potential.