Buckout Road, Westchester County, New York: “The most haunted road in America.” It’s a topic of study for Professor Hancock (Mayko Nguyen) and three of her students, Cleo (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), Erik (Kyle Mac), and Derek (Jim Watson), who are doing a presentation on creation and destruction of modern myth. Their quest to disprove the legends associated with the road instead cause them to be haunted by premonitions of their own deaths. Enter Aaron (Evan Ross), fresh out of Naval Postgraduate School and visiting his grandfather Lawrence (Danny Glover), who happens to be Cleo’s psychiatrist and a colleague of her father, Detective Harris (Henry Czerny). Aaron soon finds himself having crazy dreams, too. Can the young folks solve the mystery before they die?
There really is a Buckout Road, and there really are legends associated with it, as depicted in the movie: a trio of witches burned at the stake, a guy named Buckhout shooting his wife, a woman named Mary hanging herself and reappearing as a specter dressed in white, and a family of albinos coming to attack if one honks one’s horn three times. (This article is very informative, if you’re interested in the real deal.) Cleo, Erik, and Derek disprove all of the legends in their video project, but they turn out to be true somehow anyway, and throw in some devil worship and lucid dreaming by way of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and you’ve got an interesting premise and some intriguing ideas about facts versus faith, but a storyline that turns to poo.
However, according to this article, earlier versions of the movie were even fucking wackier (and it was originally going to be directed by Jason Priestley). This is how John Pascucci, still credited for the film’s story but not script, described the movie: “Buckout chops off his wife’s head, and burns down a barn full of slaves after learning that his wife had an affair with one of the slaves. Voodoo witches place a curse on Buckout and his two sons, turning them into albinos who must eat human flesh to get back their pigmentation. It’s the ultimate price for being a racist.” That sounds…like a noble effort on the part of a clueless white guy…? Instead of what I can only imagine were well-meaning-but-racist depictions of voodoo, we have a script co-written by a man of color, Shahin Chandrasoma, and a fairly diverse cast.
The characters are likable, or if not likable then well-portrayed. Aaron is brave and strong without being all macho and braggy about it. Cleo is smart and kicks ass. Erik and Derek (they’re twins, by the way, that’s why their names rhyme) are not terribly annoying. Danny Glover, Colm Feore, and Henry Czerny are seasoned professionals, and not unfamiliar faces in the horror genre. I could have used more Glover, really. Okay, mainly who I had in mind when I said likable was Aaron and to a lesser extent Cleo. Aaron is just a good dude. He can carry the movie all by himself.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I’m in the see-it rather than the not-see-it camp. The random attempts at humor and plot inconsistencies didn’t ruin the movie for me. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something fun with protagonists who think.