Clinton Road Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Midnight Releasing
Directed by Richard Greico and Steve Stanulis
Written by Noel Ashman, Derek Mackay, and Steve Sanulis
2019, 77 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 14th, 2019
Eric Roberts as Eric Roberts
Ice-T as RJ
James DeBello as Begory
Vincent Pastore as Club Owner
Erin O’ Brien as Gianna
Fredro Starr as Fredro
Carlos Leon as The Ranger
Ace Young as Michael
Katie Morrison as Isabella
A haunted road through a notorious stretch of New Jersey woods. A group of friends seeking closure for a missing bride. Notable names like Ice-T, Vincent Pastore, and Eric Roberts. Sounds like a recipe for B-movie fun, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
Clinton Road tells the story of a widowed firefighter named Michael (Ace Young) and his sister-in-law, Isabella (Katie Morrison; The Blacklist). They are bringing a group of friends and a psychic medium named Begory (James DeBello; Cabin Fever) to a stretch of woods off the infamous Clinton Road in New Jersey to seek “closure”. Unfortunately, this wilderness is horribly haunted and most of them won’t make it out alive.
Those aforementioned elements may not be the most original, but in the right hands they can still make for some solid genre fare. Sadly, the hands of former heartthrob Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street) and Steve Stanulis (along with the gaggle of writers who rewrote and revised) are not the right ones. It’s hard to be gentler than that.
The first 30 minutes or so are fairly solid, but that’s also where they blow their entire wad. Cameo appearances by Ice-T (who is always entertaining), Vincent Pastore (his Sopranos days long gone), and Eric Roberts (blink and you miss him) keep you hooked on the extended club scene. Even the choppy audio, out of balance with the music, isn’t too jarring because you’re seeing some actors that give you hope. The problem with the proverbial premature finish is that there’s still time left to grind, and you have to do it with a semi.
Once the action shifts to the Jersey woods, what you get is a mishmash of half-thought ideas and bloodless, toothless “kills” that show nothing and do not inspire. All the tropes are in place, right down to the random sex in the woods that’s interrupted by a jump scare appearance and then we go immediately back to oral sex. It’s senselessness at its most pure. The repeated sightings of the pointless ghost girl, who looks like an extra at the local haunted house, left me confused and apoplectically yelling, “DO SOMETHING!” At least if we had gotten some inspired gore and intended comedy, you could chalk up Clinton Road under the loving umbrella of camp.
Perhaps the most frustrating part is that, simmering beneath the surface, are the bones of a good concept that was ultimately wasted in nearly spectacular fashion. The budget is a reported 2.5 million dollars. I’m assuming it was spent on the cameos in the first 30 minutes. For what it’s worth, James DeBello puts in a real effort with bad material. Don’t let this ruin it for you, James!
Clinton Road shows that you need more than a half-thought premise and a few names for cameos to make something that will last, but it also proves that it’s enough to at least get the movie made. That’s really all I’ve got to say about it.
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