Can a film be declared a comedy because it lacks everything else and it fills its void with unintentional humour? I mean, you’re laughing, so that means it’s inevitably funny, right? Or are you only laughing because that’s the last response you have left? A defence against the existential horror the film has triggered in you. A terror in seeing the famed actor and activist Danny Glover trapped in this film. The fear that this is a film that should not be and that the mind recoils at watching it.
Consequently, all you can do is laugh.
So, yes, The Curse of Buckout Road.
Based on the urban legends of the actual Buckout Road in Upstate New York, Curse of Buckout Road decides to combine them all into something that sort of resembles a film at a distance. Opening with the most realistic depiction of a humanities lecture and a contender for this year’s “Non-Sequitur Jumpscare Award” the film follows Aaron Powell (Evan Ross). Returning from military school, he moves back in with his grandfather; former pastor turned psychologist Lawrence Powell (Danny Glover). Powell senior has found a connection between a string of suicides, sleepwalking cases and the infamous Buckout Road. A group of college students led by Cleo (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) have recently disturbed the legend that dwells there. But before Powell senior can act, he dies in a car crash on the accursed road. Now it’s up to Aaron to save the students from the urban legends of Buckout Road…hold on; it’s a curse…wait no, it’s the evil of the land that might be a Sumerian god? And there is now a cult? Along with a 1970s grindhouse filtered flashback/dream sequence and an over the top suicide dream montage and the ghosts of witches…
I’ve rewatched this several times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
Then I rewatched it again, to make sure I didn’t have a fever dream.
Buckout Road is bursting at the seams. The ghosts of witches, albino twin slasher murderers, a hag with makeup that looks like it’s from a Halloween monster pack. So much crammed into it that you lose track of everything that’s wrong with it.
The never-ending twists are probably my main gripe. Films with twists are good. Films with multiple twists are even better. But as established, Buckout Road isn’t a good film. No teasing out of the plot. No development of the story. They’re hardly even plot twists, just another revelation pulled out of the ether and smacked in front of us repeatedly during the second half. For a twist to work, it has to be set up long before it’s revealed, hidden in plain sight. The director has caught you out. Here, they’re just dumped in your lap with nearly every breath. “There is a curse. But I can fight it in my dreams for some reason. Turns out not to be a curse after all. And someone’s family might be involved; not sure, go nuts.”
It’s like if director Matthew Currie Holmes came in, slapped a giant diorama on the table, and bellowed “Look on my works ye mighty!” Then did it again 30 seconds later. And kept repeating that for the rest of the night.
You become lost in a mass of clichés and plot twists that leave viewer is left wondering who they are, and why they’re doing this to themselves.
This overload is not limited to the story alone. We end up with barely defined characters, each of whom has one sentence background. “This guy’s a stoner.” “This girl has family issues.” “This fellow is regretting his agent’s choices.” Key points of the characters’ arc dumped into our laps out of nowhere, ignored for the rest of the film. Denying the characters any valid form of development, we end up with shallow mannequins with no chemistry and all the likability of a dead rat.
And that’s what makes it funny.
They’re trying to have a bit of fun with some parts like the grindhouse mentioned above sequence. But the violence, the abuse, it’s clear they wanted to make a serious film. They establish that there is truth to the legends of Buckout Road, and then they suddenly hit you with a montage of over the top suicides and ghost hags that is so out of the left-field you end up becoming a centrifuge. You end up laughing at how ridiculous it is because otherwise, you begin to realise how much of your life you’ve wasted watching the film. This level of humour works only by accident, not if the film was meant to be a comedy.
And that is why it deserves to be watched. Not because it’s a good film, but because its redeeming feature is its unintended hilarity.
Dir: Matthew Currie Holmes
Scr: Matthew Currie Holmes, Shahin Chandrasoma
Cast: Danny Glover, Evan Ross, Dominique Provost-Chalkley
Prd: Brad Wm. Clark, John Gillespie
DOP: Rudolf Blahacek
Music: Ryan Shore
Runtime: 97 minutes
The Curse of Buckout Road is available on Digital now.