FILM REVIEW: Josh's review of CLINTON ROAD
Clinton Road: directed by Richard Grieco and Steve Stanulis
Starring: Ice-T, Ace Young, James DeBello, Cody Calafiore, and Sarah Pribis.
I love a good horror movie or story with a connection to a real place. Urban legends, specifically, fascinate me because there's always a grain of truth behind these stories that would otherwise be dismissed as fake. With that in mind, there is a real Clifton Road located off Route Twenty-Three in Passaic County, New Jersey. It is a lonely ten-mile stretch of road where few people live - so perhaps it has garnered its unfortunate infamy for a reason? Or perhaps its reputation is well-received as many mysterious events have been known to happen there. If you don't believe this sentiment, then look no further than the various accounts of events that have been documented there: the serial killer, Richard 'The Ice Man' Kuklinski, was known to have deposed of some of his victims there; people have claimed to have seen the ghost of a drowned boy on the bridge (above the stream he died in); both a ghostly Camero and a pick-up truck have been said to follow unsuspecting drivers along the road; campers allegedly encounter a pair of ghostly park rangers who still patrol the nearby state forest; there have even been sightings of hell-hounds, Bigfoot and all manner of other-worldly creatures. Therefore with such rich material to draw from one would think that someone could make a great horror movie; unfortunately, this film isn't the one.
The movie opens with our characters going to a bar owned by RJ (ICE-T). The characters, in question, include: Michael (ACE YOUNG) - a firefighter whose wife disappeared on Clinton Road a year earlier, Michael's sister-in-law Jessica (SARAH PRIBIS), and a medium named Begory (DEBELLO). You see, after the police have failed to find out what happened to Michael's wife (her sister), Jessica hires the talents of Begory to do a reading on the infamous road known as Clinton Road. Though RJ tries to discourage this plan by recounting his encounter with a ghostly hitchhiker on the road, our cast of characters make the trek out to Clinton Road the next day anyway. Once they're there, of course, the evil spirits of Clinton Road come to life and (spoiler-alert!) begin picking them off one by one.
The first big problem with Clinton Road is that it is really short: like only seventy-seven minutes long. However, despite its short runtime, the directors go into several unnecessary subplots that take place in RJ's club (i.e. the mayor coming to the club, RJ getting a loan from the mob, and Eric Roberts trying to get in). With a film this short one question immediately came to mind as I was watching it unfold: What do any of these subplots have to do with a movie about a haunted road?
Additionally, despite the many rich legends of Clinton Road (as I mentioned before), the whole film devolves into a knock off of a Friday the 13th film where everyone dies gruesome, but predictable, deaths. With all of this said, there are only little nods to the legends of Clinton Road. For instance, at a couple of points, we see the ghost rangers and the Camero. However, these moments were sadly poorly executed and hardly worth the time. Finally, there was the acting...Ace Young was in no way convincing as a firefighter, let alone as a widower still mourning over his deceased wife.
Now, let me preface what I say next by stating that I hate tearing movies apart - so I always try to find something positive to say about any movie I watch. However, in the case of this film, I couldn't find anything to like about it. Instead, I think people should save their money and take a trip to the real Clinton Road. That might be scarier and more fun.
Clinton Road opens today in limited release.
Movie grade: F