Film reviews

Manchester Film Festival: Buckout Road

In the brochure of the film festival, Danny Glover is billed as the lead actor of Buckout Road – sadly he’s not. Buckout Road, however, is a wildly fun horror with comedy elements all over the show. Are you ready to visit… Buckout Road?

In New York, connecting both Westchester and White Plains, there is Buckout Road – the home of countless urban legends ranging from witch-burning to beeping a car horn for albinos to appear. Buckout Road opens with a class seminar on the concepts of urban legends, myths, and why they are both sought out to be dismissed. During the night of the class seminar, however, its class lecturer, Stephanie Hancock (Killjoys’ Mayko Nguyen) dies from an apparent suicide, thus the local law enforcement – led by Detective Harris (Mission: Impossible’s Henry Czerny) – has local psychiatrist, Dr. Powell (Lethal Weapon’s Danny Glover) review videos of Hancock’s psychiatry sessions to determine or suggest the reasoning behind her ultimate suicide.

Obviously traumatised by her lecturer’s sudden death, student Cleo Harris (Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley), seeks help from Dr. Powell, of which causes her to meet Buckout Road’s central character, Dr. Powell’s grandson,  Aaron Powell (The Hunger Games’ Evan Ross). Evan, having just left Naval Postgraduate School and not given a lift home by his granddad, feels somewhat of a disconnection from the real world, sadly. Cleo seeks the doctor’s help for her reoccurring nightmares of being involved within a Buckout Road urban legend.

Furthermore, Cleo’s un-identical twin BFFs, Erik (Carrie’s Kyle Mac) and Derek (Between’s Jim Watson), of whom she produced a video product with DISMISSING THE URBAN LEGENDS OF BUCKOUT ROAD, find themselves passed out and subsequently found within a crime scene, though they argue that they don’t know how they ended up there and that they both experienced the same 70s slasher-horror dream involving the albino urban legend – this story event is the genesis of Buckout Road’s comedy. Ultimately, Cleo and the twins have determined that the urban legends are punishing them for disproving their existence.

Aaron, totally confused by the occurrences, is somehow easily convinced to join the team of Cleo and the twins, after they break-in to Dr. Powell’s home to view psychiatric recordings. Once established as a unit, things are getting weirder and crazier for Aaron, Cleo, Erik and Derek, though poor Aaron is soon to blame for the increased craziness, including attempted murder.

Buckout Road presents horror film scenarios of which you have seen throughout your life, with a character example being: Aaron Powell – one of the good guys – typically accused of wrong-doing in relation to the horror film’s evil/crimes etc. Furthermore, a teen meeting their fate or being attacked within a dream in Buckout Road is a blatant homage of the murders within the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Additionally, the concept of individuals or a group placing their persons within a specific location with a horrendous reputation, only to be attacked, is horror homage, again, but of the Friday the 13th franchise this time.

Though a pleasure to see Danny Glover on the big screen again, his performance in Buckout Road, though entertaining, probably won’t be remembered in five years time or will Buckout Road overall, though that’s largely due to non-series/franchise horrors often being forgotten about, though the door could very well be open for a sequel.

Evan Ross’ performance of Aaron Powell is interesting because despite the dreadful family losses he has endured, there is a clear struggle to produce a liking for the character, and sadly, he is the least entertaining of characters to watch throughout Buckout Road. Whereas Dominique Provost-Chalkley’s Cleo Harris poses so much more interest than Aaron for two huge reasons: she has to live with her very annoying and protective father, Detective Harris; and she suffers a fair bit at the hands of the Buckout Road urban legends, thus the viewer has established an interest to naturally wonder how she will cope throughout the rest of the film – will she die, will she turn on the hero, is she the “final girl”?

The comic relief provided by Erik and Derek is terrific and adds a dimension to Buckout Road that makes the horror film fun in the least. The comedy provided is due to a well refined comedic timing by both the twins and director. Erik and Derek’s comedy, however, always ties in or includes Detective Harris, thus producing the ultimate question: does Harris need to the twins to be funny or do the twins need Harris to be funny?

Sadly, for the post-premiere Q&A, there was a no-show from the director of Buckout Road. An ambitious audience member claimed, “We’re waiting for Danny Glover.” A member of the festival crew replied with, “Ha, Danny Glover won’t be here.” Yours truly had no choice but to conclude this conversation with, “He won’t be here…because he’s too old for this sh*t.”

Conclusively, Buckout Road is a very fun horror with on-off comedy, though it can’t be expected to last long in the memory of its viewer. Buckout Road does, however, boast a range of well-produced homage to horror franchises of yesteryear. So if you’re a big-time horror fan, then Buckout Road is the one for you.

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