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I remember reading about Jason Banker’s micro-budget horror debut Toad Road last year when it won the Jury Prizes for Best Actor and Best Director at the 2012 Fantasia Film Festival. And then, like some urban legends, the film went into seclusion, and I forgot all about it. Apparently I missed a few clips and a trailer in the meantime. But what’s important for everyone to know is the above clip, courtesy of The Playlist, does the best job overall of laying out to viewers exactly what this film’s intentions are, and where these characters’ journeys will take them. And it looks like a wicked little trip indeed.
Executive produced by Elijah Wood, Toad Road was inspired by a small town local legend, and Banker’s approach to telling the tale is a pseudo-documentary style. It appears to start off in the same vein as the haunting Lake Mungo or Cropsey, but gets increasingly off-kilter as the film goes along, drifting into Black Witch territory, a comparison that is strengthened due to the completely improvisational work done by the cast of all newcomers. And I’m all for it, so long as the film continues to have fun even when the evil takes over, like V/H/S/2 did, in ways that its predecessor sadly didn’t.
The legend tells of a path that leads to a burned down mental institution that causes hallucinations and other mental and physical heightening. As you walk down the path, you’re passing through the Gates of Hell, and well, you know what happens when those get opened. Take a look at the teaser trailer to get a better idea of how far off the rails things might go as these characters decide to take the path head on. (I realize it’s not a Toad Railroad.)
I fit right into this film’s intended audience. Once a film starts introducing hallucinogens into wooded areas that may or may not be haunted by the souls of dead mental patients, it might as well be holding a boombox outside my window. I’ll be honest: the decent word of mouth is the only reason I’ve retained an interest in Toad Road, as the path of cheap horror is one of low-hanging fruit.
Toad Road will hit DVD and VOD this October, with a possible limited theatrical run around that time as well. Just make sure your theater isn’t in a wooded, path-ridden area. Check out a few of the film’s stills below, followed by a short interview Banker gave last year for Fantasia Fest.