Film Reviews

Roadkill – Film Review

Watching Roadkill reminded me once again how difficult it is to make a movie. Motion pictures are so ubiquitous to us these days. So abundant that well-crafted films are almost taken for granted. When something doesn’t click, when something doesn’t fire on all cylinders, when it doesn’t quite gel – only then does the difficulty of the task become apparent. Roadkill, unfortunately, is a potent example of how hard it is to make a film.

The premise of this low-budget crime thriller starts with an air of promise. Two criminal entities converge when a small-time highway thief crosses lanes with a disturbed serial killer after a botched robbery. Suddenly the petty bandit is sucked into a world of police investigations and “sin”.  He soon becomes a lost soul stranded within the desolate, never-ending Australian highways.

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For a low-budget thriller, it’s clear that Roadkill‘s subtext holds some lofty aspirations. Despite its short running time and limited funds, the film holds a plot far more complex than expected. One must commend the attempts to juggle a range of character motivations within such a small frame. More muscular thrillers such as Seven (1995) or The Hitcher (1986) can be glimpsed within Roadkill as possible weighty influences.

However, Roadkill’s clear ambition is muddied by rudimentary storytelling. The direction of the plot, weak performances and scripting, and awkward blocking choices hamper what could have been a lean Ozploitation gem. The integration of the film’s spiritual aspects is cumbersome, with scenes which talk about “sinners” sticking out like a sore thumb.

The same could be said for the film’s unconvincing performances. Roadkill’s story has a lot of heavy lifting which its cast simply struggles to cope with. It doesn’t help that the film’s writer/director is also the film’s main lead. The feeling of Alexander Whitrow being spread thin instead of being laser-focused on where it counts is clear.

The punchy, sunburnt cinematography is a welcoming change from a lot of the current cinematic palettes that are around. However, in watching yet another, now commonplace drone shot to establish a scene, there’s a feeling that time would have been better spent doing more to generate tension than looks.

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The “fridging” of the film’s most prominent female character is a strong example of why Roadkill struggles. Actress Sarah Milde is landed with the thankless task of being relegated to the plot-driven trope. The rest of the film’s promising idea falls under the weight of unbelievable interactions, which struggle to get the audience to care for such a pivotal moment.

At least Roadkill dares to be different. Its premise is the main reason to stay invested. There is an amount of intrigue to where everything will all lead. It’s just a shame that the basic mechanics of the film are too shaky to make it truly stand out.

Roadkill is out now on digital from Reel 2 Reel Films.

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