No Through Road (2008)
By: Julian on June 9, 2009  | 
DVD
Accent (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 85 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Sam Barrett
Starring: James Helm, Megan Palinkas, Richie Flanagan, Sam Barrett, Keagan Kang
Screenplay: Sam Barrett, Robbie Studsor
Country: Australia
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
The first feature of Perth director Sam Barrett, No Through Road made its Australian DVD debut on the Accent Underground label earlier this year after a successful stint on the film festival circuit, including an award-winning turn at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2008. No Through Road is a dark, seedy film that draws its inspirations from flicks ranging from Straw Dogs to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, all the while displaying its own style and a great atmosphere throughout.

No Through Road introduces Richard (James Helm), a photographer who lives alone in the middle of suburbia. Prompted by a noise in his house one quiet evening, Richard discovers Samantha (Megan Palinkas) hiding in his closet. Bloodied and disoriented, Samantha begs Richard for sanctuary, asserting that a group of men are after her for reasons she doesn't yet divulge. Before long a ute rolls onto Richard's driveway and four blokes emerge. One of them, Chaz (played by director Barrett) claims to be a concerned neighbour of Samantha's, suggesting that she runs a volatile drug lab in her backyard with her scumbag boyfriend, and dubiously wants to make sure that "no poor fuckin' kid is pulling shards out of his face for six months when the thing blows up".

Chaz's motives are very obviously suspicious so Richard doesn't hand Samantha over, instead opting to leave the house with her. When he attempts to do so, he discovers that his car has been tampered with by the men. As their confrontations escalate, Richard demands information from Samantha and she eventually tells him that the men had assaulted and raped her in a nearby park. She escaped, and now the men want to make sure she doesn't talk. Samantha begs Richard not to call the police so he instead calls Ned, an old family friend and ex-cop.

The camera flicks between the duo holed up in the house, their state of fear slowly increasing, while the blokes outside figure out what to do. The ringleader emerges as Toryn, who frequently hurls abuse at his mates and Richard and Samantha. A couple of the guys start to get cold feet about the whole thing and Toryn intimidates them into staying, though their motives for doing so are not revealed.

Ned arrives and has a chat with Richard, who tells him everything. Ned also offers some insight as to where Richard has come from – "the apple fell far from the tree... your father could shoot the whiskers off a kitten". Ned tells Richard he'll go outside and try to intimidate the men into leaving. He has a chat to the blokes first, offering to kick around a footy, until Toryn begins to get abusive. A sudden movement, and one of the men smashes Ned in the face with a hammer. As Ned writhes on the ground Toryn finishes him off in appallingly brutal fashion. With phone lines disabled, Richard and Samantha must find a means to escape as Richard finds it increasingly difficult to grapple what's actually going on and what Samantha's really there for.

No Through Road is part of a really good run of Australian horror movies that began with Wolf Creek in 2005. What's most remarkable about the film is that screenwriters Barrett and Robbie Studsor haven't caricatured Australians for the foreign market, as perhaps was done in Wolf Creek with Mick Taylor as a cackling, slang-spouting cartoon villain. Particularly chilling are the antagonists, and the four blokes turn in some really good performances. It's quite scary to see how typical they actually are – before Toryn scatters Ned's brains over the driveway, he's kicking a ball around with the lads and playfully joking with Ned. His behaviour gradually worsens throughout the first half of the film, from what at first seems to be mere intimidating nuisance to shocking displays of ultra-violence.

Barrett has done a really good job with the violence as well – it's not done in excessive quantity which acts to the benefit of the film's seriously dark tone. And when the movie does turn explicitly nasty, it's just shocking – a torture scene towards the end of the film will surely make seasoned horror-hounds wince far worse than what they did in similar sequences in Hostel and the bevy of Saw sequels. Perhaps it's because Barrett and Studsor have done such a good job making No Through Road a film very close to home – we're witnessing ordinary-looking young Australian men, in an ordinary-looking suburban street. In this respect, the picture must really be applauded.

Where No Through Road is deficient is primarily in Samantha's characterisation. The constant "who is she?" vibe that could have really given this film a terrific payoff culminated in a tremendous anticlimax. The film also threatens to unravel towards the end in an unlikely escape scenario (even more unlikely that it wasn't utilised earlier) but Barrett gets everything together for the pay-off, one of the most brutal sequences of retribution I've seen in Aussie horror cinema.
Video
Picture is presented in 2:35:1, with 16:9 enhancement. It's not terrific, but that's possibly a testament to various budgetary constraints – the picture was soft and the blacks were sometimes grainy.
Audio
One English audio track, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. All sounds good.
Extra Features
A collection of trailers for Accent Underground flicks.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
No Through Road took me by surprise – it's a horror film obviously done on a very tight budget and co-writer/co-producer/actor/director Sam Barrett has used this to his advantage. It has a tight scope, the special effects are sparse but pack a really good punch and it never reaches beyond its means, with the exception of a few plot points that were immaterial anyway and could have easily been snipped. Recommended.

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