Road Head Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Terror Films
Directed by David Del Rio
Written by Justin Xavier
2021, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 4th, 2021
Elizabeth Grullon as Stephanie
Damian Joseph Quinn as Alex
Clayton Farris as Bryan
Adam Nemet as The Executioner
David McKee as Felicity Fellatio Bones
Paul T. Taylor as Carl
Schoen Hodges as Larry
I’m a little frustrated right now, and it’s all because of Road Head. No, I did not receive unsatisfactory road head; I’m all good in that department- my wife has game. My sex life notwithstanding, I’m sitting here a little flummoxed because I wanted this to be a transcendent experience involving horror, comedy, and unsafe oral sex. And while all those elements are certainly present in Road Head, they’re not firing on all cylinders and the timing is out of sync.
I shouldn’t start from what sounds like such a negative position. There are plenty of things to like in Road Head, not the least of which is an energy and an undeniable chemistry that’s propped up with some excellent performances. But first, a synopsis…
Alex (Damian Joseph Quinn; The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Bryan (Clayton Farris; Scream Queens) should be going on a romantic vacation for two. Instead, they’re on their way to Isola Lake with Bryan’s acerbic friend, Stephanie (Elizabeth Grullon; Killing Lazarus). She’s dealing with a messy breakup that she’s not ready to face, and the three are on their way to a big lake party with a fat bag of weed in a green van that’s a cheeky nod to Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke. There’s one problem, however – the lake is a dry desert flat (Isola Lake didn’t sound too promising if we’re being honest) and there’s Executioner (Adam Nemet; Stone in the River) a lunatic wandering the vast wastes with a surgically sharp sword and a penchant for decapitation. He also has an amazing knack for happening upon you whenever your significant other decides to munch on your no-no parts while you drive; now there’s a trick that must require some seriously sharp senses. That’s all bad enough. Once you throw in an entire cult of desert weirdos like the dorky leader, Carl (Paul T. Taylor; Hellraiser: Judgment), and the drag queen with a capital “Q”, Felicity Fellatio Bones (David McKee; Cherry Pop), you’re left with a worst-case scenario that redefines the phrase “What in the actual fuck?”.
The team of director David Del Rio and writer Justin Xavier are responsible for one of my all-time favorite hidden gems of the last few years, Sick for Toys. There’s an uncertainty and madcap energy to their work that’s as strong here as it is in the film that’s become part of my regular Christmas rotation. Road Head is uneven with its tone and the balance between the horror and the comedy. Additionally, the problem with the horror is two-fold as it vacillates between campy horror (with wonderfully splattery SFX gags and the orange teeth on seemingly all the cult members) and some deliciously dark moments with Paul T. Taylor (read my interview from Frightmare Collectibles with the man himself here) in a near-rape scene that’s jarringly tense.
Road Head is a film that is defiantly not going to do what your brain has been trained to expect from a horror-comedy. Instead, it jumps from “A” to “C” to “E” then all the way to “X” before swinging back to “C”. Despite that, you’ll be quite attached to the characters before it’s all said and done. There’s just so much chemistry that the occasionally off-kilter dialogue and extreme lack of logic are acceptable casualties because you are genuinely entertained and pulling for the leads.
The relationship between Alex and Bryan is real and enjoyable with a side of adorable. Some of the strongest moments in Road Head happen when these two are on screen together. Damian Joseph Quinn is a future star, and you don’t even have to look very closely to see it (“Can I get a factory reset on my Stephanie? This one’s in cunt mode!”). Adam Nemet steals every scene as The Executioner from the second he opens his mouth and speaks; it’s just too much fun. The story could’ve fattened up with a few more details and time spent with the desert cult and been better for it, such was the energy between all involved. I was begging for a seriously dark turn with Paul T. Taylor’s portrayal of the leader, Carl; he is ripe for a disturbing tonal change. Then there’s Stephanie, a character who is often dislikable and combative but felt like someone I know. She’s a bit of a modernization of Scarface from Half-Baked. As a rather grouchy pothead myself, I can attest that the archetype of the high-strung stoner is very real. We’re people too, dammit!
Road Head is the textbook definition of hot mess from a storytelling standpoint, but it’s still damn good fun. The premise is far-fetched. The execution is uneven. The heart is real, though, and the chemistry between the cast is irresistible. The cool thing about Road Head is that you’re having a good enough time to make the shortcomings nothing more important than irritating background noise.
Taking the style of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and mixing it with the danger of The Hills Have Eyes and the sensibility of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a damn solid way of ensuring you’ll strike a chord with your audience, after all.
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