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21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Contemporary Youths??? Hardly...

Author: bz_siege_01 from United States
20 January 2014

Possible Spoilers *but don't worry, the director spoiled this long before"

This show was a God-awful waste of time. I can go watch unproductive losers perpetuate their downward spiral in any college town. That's not interesting. I was led to believe this was a supernatural thriller. Why? Well, you see, the movie description clearly implies that there is a supernatural element to this movie. There are about 47 seconds of the usual obscure filming with ominous music.

Some people love the non-traditional indie film style. I do, if it's done well. This one was not done well. The majority of the movie was a collage of kids with no ambition, no direction and no common sense doing drugs that they can inexplicably afford without jobs. You don't care about any of the characters. You don't even feel sorry for them. You pretty much just assume that Darwinism will sort out most of these kids eventually.

Supernatural you ask? There is a hint of a local urban legend. It takes forever for any characters to get around to encountering it. Again, it lasts a few seconds. That's it. No explanations of any kind whatsoever. Where did the legend originate? Nobody makes it past the 5th gate? How do you know? Someone said? What happened on the trail? How does it end?

Well... do not expect any answers whatsoever. It's almost like someone said, "I have hours of footage of losers doing drugs... we could probably con people into watching it if we hint at the supernatural!" I mean, did NOBODY on the crew ask, "But... what HAPPENED?" The director must have said, "Eh, it's not important. We're going to end the movie right about there anyways. Just use your imagination." What truly boggles my mind is that people who had a vested interest in the success of this film looked at the first production version and said, "Yeah, that's perfect. People are gonna LOVE this!"

If you decide to watch this film, don't say you haven't been warned.


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20 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Almost good.,

Author: olafiscoming from Canada
21 December 2013

Not sure what to make of this. I get the sense that something profound was lurking just under the surface but was almost afraid to show itself. The ambivalence could have been better utilized if the teenage-wasteland ambiance wasn't so overemphasized.

One can see the influence of The River's Edge at points, with the sexual nihilism and narcotic bacchanalia, but it lacks that film's amoral centre and fuller characters.The characters seems to be rebelling against nothing specific, while the female lead seems to be on the verge of transcendence from nothing more than suggestion. Her first trip did not show the viewer exactly how or why her attraction to Toad Road is suddenly so visceral.

I was involved and committed but when it was over I walked away, sadly, not wanting more.

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13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Hipsters experimenting with drugs and transcendence

Author: azraellemeow
21 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had high hopes going into this movie. I enjoy urban legends and what not. It starts with a group of young twenty somethings doing different types of drugs in various way that I had never seen. It all seemed very casual and not a lot going on. Just kids with no real direction in life, filling their days by getting high.

Then we have the semi naïve lead girl who decides she would like to delve more into the drug scene purely for the "mind opening" experience. She becomes obsessed with the Toad Road urban legend and decides she wants to do it. Even though her "boyfriend" says it's a bad idea. She decides to become stubborn about it,even saying she'd do it alone. Reluctantly, the boyfriend agrees to go along.

So,the trip begins. The scenes are rather boring with her voice over trying to sound all intelligent and deep. So,the guy finally wakes up and heads back to city after a feeble attempt to find the girl. What bothers me is that he never asks anyone how long he's been gone. And when it seems he finally does realize, he doesn't freak out or anything. He just goes into hiding because he thinks he'll be blamed for the girls disappearance. It's like he's not even concerned about what happened to her. He doesn't help with a search team or anything.

Also, how would he have survived for months in the woods? What did he eat? I mean, he seems to have just been passed out the whole time. It's technically, not possible. So, then he delves deeper into drugs, alcohol, pain, etc. He starts to have odd flashbacks about his time in the woods. Then, it just ends. WTF? How was there any resolution to this movie? What was the point? Did he kill her in the woods? Did she disappear into the seventh gate? Lots of questions that are never resolved in a "going no where" movie.

If anyone else has any insight into what the hell this movie was supposed to be about (Besides kids getting high because their lives are boring and pampered), please let me know!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great Indie Film

Author: Scott Hoffman
10 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is for a small audience. Most people are going to grow bored and/or disgusted with this story 10 minutes in. For some of us though, this is the type of film that we love to stumble upon. It is a beautifully shot and acted indie picture featuring a unique and brutal story. As I watched Toad Road for the first time, I got the impression that the players and their performances were something more genuine than paid actors reciting a script. I have since then learned (from articles found online) that this film wasn't just thespians regurgitating lines. Many people involved played roles modeled after themselves. Most of the actors play characters of the same name and in a tragic turn of life imitating art, Sara Anne Jones who played the leading lady died of a drug overdose a couple weeks after the film's debut.

If you like cut and dry story telling, this isn't for you. If you want something with all the blanks filled in, this isn't for you. But if you want something uncomfortably gritty and in your face, you need to check this out. I look forward to watching this again in the near future and I can't wait to check out other works by Writer/Director Jason Banker.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"there's no time, no pain, just a great, giant, black void"

Author: bluestemz from United States
23 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So I finally found myself with absolutely nothing to do on a Sunday morning & decided to give this indie a go. I kept putting it on the back burner as I was expecting another appalling hipster piece of trash. Given some poor public reviews, there seemed only two real motivations for watching this film: 1) a connection to York & the Toad Road mythology every young teen on acid pursues in this town & 2) the eerie, macabre foreshadowing of actress Sara Anne Jones' heroin overdose at age 24 shortly after finishing this film. Having said that, it is otherwise not at all a bad effort for writer/director/cinematographer Jason Banker.

The cinematography is, in my opinion, a strength to the film's credit. Keep in mind there was no Panavision Panaflex Platinum here. No budget attempts to film rural Pennsylvania have usually produced cheap, unimpressive, under-saturated stock. The outdoor photography here is adequate if not crisp, yet gritty & grainy when needed to convey tone. Also, the shots of Sara Anne Jones could have been pulled from an Urban Outfitter's catalog. The key strength of the film however is in it's editing. The hodgepodge of documentary style footage could have been amassed into a trainwreck, but the film maintains a fluidity from beginning to end fusing scenes together with ambient sound. Haunting but never lingering too long. It held my attention throughout & at no time did I find myself thinking, "is this over yet?" or "I know I have something better to watch," which unfortunately happens with sophomore artistic endeavors.

Now for the misconceptions. I would classify this film as an experimental docudrama. It is not a horror film in that Picnic at Hanging Rock is not a horror film. The only horror element is some brief blood toward the end & a supernatural buzz in the air. Also it is more improv than acted. It has been reported that the drugs are real & a lot of the dialog is stream of consciousness. If you take the premise of the descent into hell at face value as a horror premise, you will be disappointed. The legend of toad road as it's relayed here,whether intended or not, plays out as a metaphor for the downward spiral of addiction. Sara starts her descent by innocently experimenting socially & with outwardly noble intentions; that of transcendence or enlightenment. She wants to pursue psychedelics to grasp something profound. She makes it clear she doesn't want to just take acid and "stare at walls." She is in search of elusive answers unaware that the end result will leave her lost in the wilderness, in this case the term "lost in the wilderness" being literal & not biblical. So what happened to Sara? It doesn't matter, she is gone. She opened a door she couldn't close and now she's gone. It's sad to say that without Sara Anne Jones' death I do not think this film would have gotten any attention aside from dialog amongst the film fest & art-house crowd.

In closing, I think the film does work, and it does work well, but is perhaps best viewed in memory of Sara Anne Jones, the way, say, Synecdoche, New York can be viewed in memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:


Author: Snaggletooth . from United Kingdom
8 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read the bad reviews here and I was determined to find something of worth in Toad Road, really I was. But in a nutshell, it's true it offers almost nothing to the viewer.

The first 45 minutes of it's running time (of 75) is basically just a bunch of student types experimenting with recreational drugs. It's not unpleasant to watch, and I even found it kind of relaxing. You'll feel like a fly on the wall of some hipster party as the chemicals are passed around and you marvel at your observations. It's also acted pretty well too. But what has been claimed here already is very much true - almost nothing else takes place.

The last 35mins involve two of the group heading into some woods in search of some urban legend of 7 gateways to other realms. They take some more drugs and sit and wait for darkness to come. The film then cuts to the male character waking up on the floor, alone, with his female friend missing and when he heads back to civilization we are lead to believe that many months have now passed and the girl is being searched for. It's all very vague however and there is no tension or chills involved which I expect was the intention.

This film may be the first of Elijah Woods movie company meanderings so I hope things get (much) better. I've heard he's a big horror fan, so that's good news, but Toad Road is one big bore I'm afraid.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Drug user investigates a path to hell, but does not remember it.

Author: suite92 from SoCal, USA
30 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film opens to a group of drug addicts having fun with each other while getting high or coming down. That's about the first 45 minutes worth of 75 minutes total.

James and Sara go to Toad Road to see what's there. Supposedly there are seven gates, and if one goes through all seven, one gets entrance to hell.

At the first gate, one can feel something pulling at you, and wanting you gone, but you cannot see them. At the second gate, one starts to hear things. Just after the third gate, one starts to see things; the voices become visible. Just after the fourth gate, things around you start to die; leaves start to fall and the like. Just after the fifth gate, everything gets cold, but you feel warm and powerful.

At this point in the description by Sara, it had started snowing, and a CGI gate was visible. James catches up to Sara. The narration describing the gates continues. Time supposedly changes after passing through the fifth gate.

At this point, James is separated from Sara. He looks for her a bit, and calls her name repeatedly. He gives up and takes a long walk home. His keys do not work. After some time he gets in touch with two of his druggie friends. They tell him that he has been gone for months. No one cares that he has been gone that long, but Sara is a different matter since she has roots with people and institutions that care about her.

Do we see Sara again? Does James do anything to find her?


Cinematography: 0/10 Bipolar, to say the least. On the one hand, some long stretches are hideously bad: fuzzy, poorly lit, poorly framed, overexposed and alternately underexposed, shaky. On the better side, sections of the film have fine focus, good depth of field, nice framing and no camera shake.

Sound: 3/10 A real detriment.

Acting: 0/10 Non-existent.

Screenplay: 2/10 Next to worthless. There is about 90 seconds of plot here, yet the film drags on endlessly for 75 minutes. Filming drug addicts putting out their cigarettes in vomit is of no value whatsoever.

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21 out of 39 people found the following review useful:


Author: sylent1-9-193639 from United States
21 December 2013

This movie had NO premise and NO plot. Just a jumble of people that get messed up-the kind everyone avoided in high school because they were embarrassing themselves. Then it throws in some urban legend that is nothing.I can't imagine someone spent money making this. It was like it was directed by some movie mogul's not-very bright freshman kid.This isn't cinema, art or's just nonsense.IT was bad, it was boring and it was a waste of time. I only write this review so that someone else might avoid wasting the time it takes to watch it because it wasn't worth reviewing.I'm stumped trying to write ten lines about it. Movies like these are traps without any redeemable qualities.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

What the hell?

Author: Paul King from Broken Hill, Australia.
26 July 2014

Where did this movie get it's 5 star rating? It is just awful! Bunch of kids do magic mushrooms in a cave, wander down path that is 9 gates of hell and wonder why they come to grief? Were the filmmakers on magic mushrooms too? Most of the film is just kids getting smashed, throwing up and putting cigarette buts in their puke! I wanted to like this film as I like to give low-budget first attempts a chance, but this was just rubbish! The movie title Toad Road about an urban myth trail sounded promising, but there is no horror to be had at all. Even it's modest 75 minute running time could not save it from becoming boring and I fully advise to give this one a miss.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

An existential experience

Author: filmbizarro from Sweden
28 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I admit it, I get a kick out of movies that distort reality. I don't mean strictly surreal movies, even though I like that too, but movies that take on a rather realistic style and then twist it around - much like the previously reviewed "Ape" did. "Toad Road" takes a slightly more subtle way of things, especially since it deals with drugs as well. Yes, if a movie deals with drugs I am more likely to accept the way it bends reality as still being realistic. F*ck it, I don't need to explain why, do I? It's drugs! You all kids do it, so you know exactly what I mean.

The movie is based around the legend of the Toad Road, a long road through the woods that has 7 different gates. It has been said that no one has came to the 7th gate, and that after the 5th some seriously strange things start to happen and that's the furthest anyone has gotten. A group of friends get high in all the ways they can, and just seem to enjoy the life they are living, albeit going nowhere. The movie is about James and a girl he meets, Sara. Sara sees the drug use as something bigger, and after James tells her about the Toad Road her curiosity is piqued. She needs to go there, she has to try and reach the final gate. She manages to get James with her, and that's the last time Sara is seen.

The movie is very real and simple a lot of the time, but it still manages to get creepy once they go to the Toad Road. The last part of the movie is spent only with James and it's hard not to reflect on the past events in a similar way to how James does it. It feels even more odd knowing that the actress playing Sara, Sara Anne Jones, has since passed away. Her part in this movie is so important to keep it steady - James Davidson is fantastic too, but he needs a co-star that carries just as much strength, and Sara did that. It's a shame to lose someone like her.

"Toad Road" brings up a lot of questions while still working as a creepy story of a missing person. Most of all it's existentialistic and the use of drugs in the movie is just spot on to put every piece where it belongs. The movie doesn't need to go over board with anything, and the pace becomes one of the most important things about it. It's slower than your typical Hollywood movie, but still not a movie that literally struck me as "slow". It's hard to describe it, but it's a movie that keeps its audience busy and hooks us in to the experience. It's a movie that makes you question your choices, your past, your future, your curiosity and your mortality, and that's probably one of the biggest compliments a movie can get. A really strong effort!

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