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Thoroughly and Consistently Awful
I've noticed that a few reviewers have tried to be charitable to this disaster of a screenplay, but do not be fooled. Avoid this movie at all costs. If you wanna see a film that is loaded with bad reviews check out the 2007 remake of the original Hitcher. As bad it was, the Hitcher 2 makes that film look like Lawrence of Arabia. Aside from being too young for the role, Jake Busey's lack of ability as a villain was a serious handicap. Someone needs to tell him that flashing your teeth in every scene doesn't make you scary, it just makes you annoying. The excessive number of gun killings became difficult to count and exceedingly pointless. Violence in these films is fine and even expected, but it must have a point. Kari Wuher's good looks and constant screaming didn't help things either. A sad pathetic waste of time and money.
Octane is what a creepy highway movie is supposed to be
"Nobody in chains ever soared up to the sun"
This film is a considerably underrated yet imperfect exercise in style filmmaking. The most important element in creating a film in this genre is how effectively the director can engineer the creepiness and mystery factor and IMO Adams definitely succeeds in pulling it off here. It's clear that he grafted some of the directoral techniques of David Lynch in many of the films early sequences....Madeline Stowe says as much in the actor interviews on the DVD. Much of the film's skillfully accomplished eeriness is greatly enhanced by the soundtrack which is a solid 10.
Stowe was the perfect choice for the mother as much of her acting skill comes from her gifted ability to convey strong emotion nonverbally but merely through her facial expressions. Just watching her you truly believe this is a woman in a complete state of panic. Norman Reedus was also exceptional as the tow truck driver with a stoic icy demeanor who manipulates the audience into a context of uncertainty about his intentions.
************ Spoiler Alert *****************
The film started to become very interesting during the scene inside the tanker truck where the dark highway sequences suddenly blend into a lofty dreamlike club atmosphere with the Orbital soundtrack pounding away giving the impression that this cult is most at home when they're on the highway.
It is true, as some of the other reviewers point out, that the only real let-down in the film was the ending. It was too abrupt and should've been more developed. It would have been well served by an additional 10-15 minutes of good writing.
The entire film was shot in Luxembourg so nothing about the highway sequences looks familiar.