“Toad Road” – A genre bending film that sadly foreshadowed the fate of it’s star.
Written and directed by: Jason Banker
Starring: James Davidson and Sara Anne Jones
“Toad Road” is a movie I have been meaning to watch since it’s release, and for some reason just kept putting off. The story sounded interesting, and I love a good indie horror flick as much as the next guy. Then I read an article about how the director (Jason Banker) cast the film by searching for “VICE” magazine fan groups on-line. Subsequently, I read ” American Ghost Story: The Brief, Eerie Life of Model Sara Anne Jones” by Mike Spies of Vocativ. My interest had peeked, and tonight I finally sat down to watch it.
This is an interesting film that has been described as “A Harmony Korine take on ‘The Blair Witch Project”. I don’t know that I would agree with that. The story mostly centers on a girl named Sara (Jones) who is trying to escape her past and find herself in any way possible. She falls in with a group of friends who spend all of their time drinking insane amounts of alcohol, doing a vast array of drugs, and finding any other destructive way to pass through their lives without having to deal with adulthood or for that matter reality.
Sara decides that the best way for her to discover what she’s looking for is by doing hallucinogens. One night, at a party, a friend tells her about “Toad Road” which is a nearby trail with seven gates. Each gate is supposed to represent a level of hell. Sara convinces reluctant boyfriend James (Davidson) to take acid with her and go down the trail at night. The rest, you will have to see for yourselves.
The cinematography in this movie is effective, as Banker used a mixture of fixed camera and documentary style shots that almost look like you are watching a Youtube video of a frat party. The acting is strong, especially considering none of the actors had ever been in a movie before this. They were all a group of friends living in a bad part of Baltimore, who just happened to get a lucky break, and the end result was a good one.
The death of star Sara Anne Jones, is what makes watching this movie now especially unsettling. She died of a heroin overdose in what seems like a cruel re-enactment of her character’s life in the film. Strangely she was very similar to her character in real life. Friends described her as being beautiful, artistic and having a powerful presence. Sadly though she also shared the dark side of her character. A self-destructive curiosity for the other side of the rabbit hole. Watching “Toad Road” one cannot help but feel like they are watching her last moments on Earth, and the events that took her all too soon.
All in all I would recommend this movie to any fans of indie horror films. I am excited to see what Mr. Banker does next. I am sure he will not disappoint.