‘THE ROAD MOVIE’ Review
As you can see from the crazy trailer, it can be easy to dismiss The Road Movie as YouTube: The Movie. It’s a fair assessment of the trailer, but the pull quote “Jackass meets Faces of Death” led me to pursue it. It shares virtually nothing in common with either of those, mind you. But this looked 100% made for me. A little background: I don’t remember much about quick entertainment before YouTube. Quick fixes turn into endless hours of deep diving into the internet’s video database. My friend and I used to watch crazy compilations on YouTube in which we adopted the phrase “only in Russia!” This was in reaction to a reoccurring clips of dash cam footage with a pulsing electronic track in the background, in which something absolutely insane happens. They were always the favorite bits. Russia (among MANY other countries) have dash cams on a pretty standard basis, and it’s really easy to see why: drivers are CRAZY, and they’re everywhere. How dash cams haven’t become a common thing in North America is a mystery to me, but it’s pretty clear to see even at a glance that things are a lot more dangerous in Russia.
The Road Movie, as you may have guessed by now, is an assemblage of Russian dash cam footage, billed as a feature film from director Dimitri Kalashnikov. There is a good variety to which crashes are selected, ranging from fender benders to snowy power slides and crazy flips. It also includes one of my all-time favorite YouTube clips of a man escaping disaster, mid-crash, by jumping out of his truck cab windshield seemingly unscathed. But if you think that all dash cams capture are car accidents, you are so very wrong. That comet from a few years back? It’s here. Also — a man parachutes into the middle of a road, a fully armed tank pulls into a car wash, a woman saunters anti-climatically onto a car hood at night, two women poorly attempt to mount a camera while rolling, a prostitute describes her services and pricing, and an out of nowhere camera theft are some big WTF highlights. Aside from some bits where you wish Kalashnikov would have edited down just a bit, this is one tight, extremely entertaining 67 minutes. It’s also got a little something extra going for it. For me, at least.
FailArmy is still a go to destination for me on Friday evenings. They pull together at least 4 great compilations a week full of pain, disbelief, and amazing feats. I’m convinced they could create a movie along the same lines as this fairly easily. But there’s definitely something to the pacing and order that things occur in The Road Movie. Think of it as what someone tries to do with a good mixtape (or to a lesser extent a DJ) in finding that ebb and flow to hit your senses perfectly, or really say something (okay, maybe not so much a DJ). Kalashnikov keeps things snappy where it counts and then gets some impact out of some harrowing moments by letting them breathe. This can perhaps add weight as opposed to seeing one of them isolated.
This is especially true in a lengthy crash clip (one of the big jaw droppers) that resulted in what you will slowly begin to learn is a casualty. It’s the only time death is referenced directly, and nothing is seen, but it’s a really impacting, dread inducing moment. It’s a sobering reality that these video snippets are little pieces of life with real people. We can get a good laugh from them, or we can drop our jaws, but someone actually had to DEAL with it. This is real life horror buried within scenes of reckless drivers, costly wrecks, and harsh conditions. This era of voyeuristic all access has a very grim side that’s easy to forget. I’m not entirely sure what Kalashnikov was attempting to do with this, if anything, but I got something out of it…along with endless subtitles of the word “fuck.” If this sounds up your alley, dig in.
The Road Movie is in select theatres, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories, on Friday, January 19th
For a list of theaters, visit Oscilloscope’s site HERE.
Amazing, real footage captured by real people of really crazy shit. Entertaining as hell, short and sweet. Assembled and edited together with care and some good sensibilities.
All of these clips are existing on YouTube currently, and Kalashnikov provides no insight or commentary on what happens. Some could accuse this of being a shallow, shameless effort...