Roadside follows Dan (Ace Marrero) and his pregnant wife Mindy (Katie Stegeman) on their trek to their relatives for the holiday season. Their trip turns into a nightmare when they are held hostage at gunpoint by a mysterious man in the woods on a country road.
Roadside does a great job of building the tension slowly throughout the film and director Eric England shows a great skill of touch when dealing with suspense. Not only is there the conflict between the couple and gunman, but also between the couple themselves. Dan and Mindy walk a fine line between rocky marriage and full blown unlikability very well. I was afraid I would end up not liking either of them, but they pull it together and I ended up rooting for both of them. The chemistry between Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman goes a long way in a film like this. They come off as real people with real problems and that’s a difficult feat to pull off for any horror movie. The cinematography is also a plus here. The shots through the rifle scope are a nice change of pace from the normal scenes on the road and lend a creepy realism to the story. Roadside as a whole is a very sharp looking film for such a low budget.
Single-location horror films like Roadside often rely heavily on dialogue to carry the film and whenever the dialogue fails to deliver, so does the film. Roadside has a couple instances of some strange moments between the couple and the gunman, but for the most part Roadside is engaging from start to finish. I have no clue what I would do with an unseen man aiming a gun at my head, so it’s hard to judge the film solely on that.
If you were just watching this one out of the blue, it would be easy to mistake Roadside as a studio film with how excellent the overall production is. It’s reminiscent of films such as Frozen, Phone Booth, and a lot of Hitchcock fare. Actually, with such adeptness at progressing the story and suspense, Hitchcock would be proud. Director Eric England has shown marked improvements over his first film, Madison County, and has firmly landed himself on the list of directors to watch out for. Roadside is an absolute must see.