John Dahl is an apt thriller maker, who's previous films include Red Rock West, The Last Seduction and Rounders. So what happens when he tries his hand at horror? Well, he simply makes another damn good thriller. Roadkill is a fast paced road movie, a thriller in the style of Duel and The Hitcher and also a post-modern horror in the style of the slasher revival.

Lewis (Paul Walker) is travelling across country to pick up his girlfriend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) when he detours to pick up his wayward brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) fresh out of prison. While the two brothers are travelling to pick up Venna they play a practical joke on truck driver, 'Rusty Nail' (voiced by Ted Levine) using a CB which results in a man being put in a coma with his bottom jaw missing. The truck diver then pursues the boys and torments them on the CB. The truck pins the boys in their car up against a tree and begins crushing them and then as sudden and ferocious as the attack started he stops and drives away. What happens then is the film turns into a teen flick with the brothers finally picking up Venna and heading to a bar. However, this only acts as a breather for the audience before the stakes are upped by Rusty Nail's return and the kidnapping of Venna's friend Charlotte. After the two brothers are humiliated publicly in a practical joke all appears to be well until Venna too is kidnapped. Now the brothers must race to save Venna and Charlotte before Rusty Nail can kill them.

As a horror Roadkill ticks many of the boxes; Rusty Nail is mostly an ominous voice but when we see him he is disfigured, there is real suspense, there is even a chase through a cornfield. As a road movie the film plays on the two brother's relationship where one is a bad apple (Fuller) and one is a 'mother's boy' (Lewis) but they are connected by a bond that makes it a tragic relationship. This is a similar character devise used by Dahl previously in Rounders. But the film really works as a thriller with the suspense always high and the anticipation of what is going to happen always appearing greater that what will actually happen.

The acting is all around very strong with perhaps Sobieski and Zahn stealing their scenes. Walker too puts into a solid performance without the male bravado he tried in The Fast and the Furious. Dahl controls the film and the suspense with the mastery you would expect from such an accomplished director. All in all Roadkill is a fast and fun rollercoaster of a movie with lots of suspense though very little scares. In short this is the film that Jeepers Creepers started out as in its first 20 minutes. And it has the edge on Jeepers.

Extra Features.

There are three audio commentaries from Dahl, writers JJ Abrams and Clay Tarver, and cast members Sobieski and Zahn. Dahl's is perhaps the best though Zahn is very funny although the absence of walker is a shame. The alternate ending is a bit of a cheat because it boasts to being 29 minute alternate ending when really it's an inclusion of alternative scenes from 29 minutes from-the-end. These inserts have not even been digitally treated so look grainy and out of place. The 'Joyride' and 'More than one Rusty Nail' featurettes are nothing to write home about either.

Review by Marc Woods

Released by Twentieth Century Fox
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras : see main review