Archive for July 19th, 2010
Wes Craven offers us his summer vacation tale, of a family taking the wrong road through the desert. This is back in ’77 and the idea of crazy folk living out in the countryside, preying on travellers was something not really captured on film. We’d had Chainsaw, but this is a slightly different approach. What Craven creates is a family drama turned upside down and inside out, with all the gore and terror on view.
The story follows a family on a road trip. They are warned early on during a petrol break, ‘don’t take the back roads’ but Big Bob Carter knows different. They run into some trouble when running off the road due to a rabbit, of all things’ jumps out into the road. With a broken axel, the family look for help, only to find a crazy family living in the desert mountains, out for blood and hungry.
This is quite a vicious film. The family are all quite likeable in a very familiar way. They all seem like people you know and can relate to; griping and bitching but accepting and offer allowance. This makes the film more difficult due to a closeness with the audience. The bad guys too have a solid background which again is understandable, a reasoning for being who and why they are, which is not the case with most films of this type, or maybe sometimes a little too far fetched. Here, we have solid reasons for actions. This is Craven’s strength. He’s shown prior, with Last House just how natural he can portray human emotion, loss, desire and love for family and friends. He’s the master of this and digs in deep into the emotion. When his characters take the life of a loved one, you can truly feel the pain. When a baby is stolen, talk of eating it for supper is mentioned, it’s a truly shocking thought.
Again, Craven gives us the main star, who grows in strength to save the day. As always, a girl next door takes the lead; as with Elm Street, Scream, Last House etc, his females are the stronger characters, empowered to defeat the evil males. This is his forte, his signature and once again, here it’s executed perfectly.
The film has some tremendous casting roles. Michael Berryman is amazing here as Pluto, probably his most memorable role. Dee Wallace, Robert Huston and James Whitworth all offer a solid performance, but it’s Susan Lanier who steal the show. Her performance is outstanding and it’s a damn shame she barely made a career, although I’m sure the trauma of this role could have had something to do with that.
This is a brutal, shocking, vicious piece, yet heart warming and enduring on the eye. Beautifully filmed, capturing human emotion.