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Contemporary Youths??? Hardly...
bz_siege_0120 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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Hipsters experimenting with drugs and transcendence
azraellemeow21 January 2014
Warning: 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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Great Indie Film
Scott Hoffman10 January 2016
Warning: 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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Snaggletooth .8 January 2014
Warning: 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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Drug user investigates a path to hell, but does not remember it.
suite9230 January 2014
Warning: 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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"there's no time, no pain, just a great, giant, black void"
bluestemz23 February 2014
Warning: 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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sylent1-9-19363921 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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What the hell?
Paul King26 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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An existential experience
filmbizarro28 December 2013
Warning: 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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Absolute Rubbish
Boyd22 December 2013
OK ... Lets go out and film our mates getting trashed ... Then throw in some walking in the woods ... Then lets just throw in some sort of blair witch old rubbish about some urban legend ... Then we'll just edit it together in a form that relates to a narrative and hope nobody realises that its absolute nonsense Toad Road or Watch a blank screen I'd go for the second option Life's to short for this sort of rubbish Oh god ... The review is too short ... But if your reading this you are considering watching this waste of time "film" so I'd better blather on till I've got ten lines and save 74 minutes of your life for you so there we are : ) Peace
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Never have drugs come across as so boring
crawlacrossthemirror29 July 2014
I'm a big fan of drug-related films; they can be fun or poignant (or both) when done right. Toad Road, on the other hand, is flat out boring. Even a few hits of acid wouldn't have made this slow, hard to swallow story any more appealing, nor the mediocre script any more convincing. The characters lack any kind of depth, and even when they're high, they have nothing interesting to say. The urban legend subplot isn't developed enough; going further into it may have amped up the horror aspect a bit, which was sorely lacking (especially as this is billed as a horror movie).

Steer clear of this one, and stick to classics like Altered States, Fear and Loathing, Human Traffic, Trainspotting, or even lower-budget stuff like Pop Skull and Reindeerspotting.
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4of 10 as horror/ 7 of 10 as drug culture
vinniebob193210 February 2014
this movie would have been better off labeled and marketed as about the drug culture. the review of the movie sounded interesting and had overtones of ''dantes inferno'' but alas sucked moose testicles. it was slow in premise and promise but the acting was well done,again as a movie about drugs and not a horror movie. in total if you are seeking a horror movie then stay away from this one, if you are looking for a movie about the drug culture then this is worth watching. the movie plays out like a documentary rather then a play for the silver screen and at times loses it's focus as to what direction it wants to take. at times I wanted to turn it off but it can suck you into it, but the ending is confusing, aka it sucked and left you scratching your head. I even googled ''toad road'' as to the explanation of the ending with no success
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One of the most boring movies I've ever sat through
M. Qtips (M_Qtips)4 August 2014
There's nothing here. No characterization, no plot. Netflix calls this a "thriller" but it has nothing even remotely resembling a thrill, reviews called it a "horror movie" but it never even tries to be scary in any way, although there is a couple of mentions of a "road to hell" that you never see more of than a few people taking a walk through ordinary woods during which nothing happens. They hired a bunch of teenage loadies who weren't actors, filmed them getting wasted and throwing up, and added the few minutes of them throwing up, and then 2 minutes at the end of a detective interviewing one of them about a crime that wasn't shown and isn't explained. A complete waste of film.
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2/10 for Horror, 8/10 for Drug Use Metaphors: Not a horror film in any sense of the word, but a decent metaphor for drug abuse
fokkusu199113 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Toad Road is absolutely mislabeled as a horror film, and the DVD case synopsis is extremely misleading as the vast majority of the film has nothing to do whatsoever with the literal Toad Road urban legend highlighted on the synopsis (and for which the movie is named).

However, there is something worthwhile that can be taken from it if you've not been duped into believing this would actually be traditionally horrific or even slightly scary.

Toad Road, as the urban legend in the film, is entirely metaphorical. It isn't a "real" place - It's what happens when a person goes down the road of drug addiction.

The first "gate," which causes the feeling of being watched, can be attributed to either paranoia as a side effect of certain recreational drugs or the fear of being caught doing drugs.

The second gate, where you hear voices, can obviously be attributed to hallucinations, but the specific mention of the voices being family/friends "disappointed" in you refers to those around you appalled at your decision to begin drug abuse.

The third gate, where you see things that aren't real, is again referring to hallucinations but probably also the delusional view that your life will be fine.

The fourth gate, where everything starts to die, refers to one's physical body after long-time drug abuse - this metaphor is especially obvious to those who have seen time-lapse photos of meth addicts.

The fifth gate, where time distorts and things seem unreal, is when the continual drug use makes you start going insane literally all the time, and your life becomes an incomprehensible mess of harsh reality and horrifying fantasy.

The mention that "no one's ever gotten to the 6th gate" is because the 6th gate is the point of no return. No one ever gets back from the 6th gate because once you're there it's when the body and mind finally succumb to what the drugs have put you, mentally and physically, through.

The 7th and final gate, of course, is death.

Sara's belief that Toad Road leads to something good is the blind, naive assumption that continual drug use will always take one to a higher, better state of mind - Instead of resulting in pain and eventual death.

Toad Road is not a horror film - It is a cautionary metaphorical tale. While I personally wish the DVD case wasn't so amazingly misleading, it was still interesting... though it would be a lot more so to people who actually seek out this sort of film instead of a horror film.

2/10 for horror, but 8/10 for metaphorical cautionary tale. The average of those is 5/10, thus my rating.
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Excellent Transcendental Experimental Film
moonmonday22 January 2014
This was a really enthralling film, quite gripping, and I would disagree with those who have said it has no horror elements; it has them, but that isn't the focus on the film.

Overall it leaves things unresolved and unsettles the viewer, but it also makes the viewer think, which is something these films typically don't do. It doesn't give any handy or quick answers as to whether or not 'drugs are bad', passes no real judgement on its characters, and seems to have at least some grasp on drugs and drug culture. Some of the aspects of the film were not entirely plausible for all the characters (which most viewers probably won't notice), and others seemed superfluous.

As the film went on, it became difficult to distinguish what was actually happening, which was interesting enough; it seemed at times prosaic, but did that mean it actually occurred that way? You don't know, because neither does the main character. What happened in the woods? Are they really a gate to hell? You don't know. But something happened in those woods, and part of the horror is just that: you don't know.

A very effective and bittersweet film, with horror elements that cannot be denied, this works very well because the characters are real and the situations seem to be very believable. It is definitely experimental...that's what I would call this...but it's an excellent film. It's worth watching, and it also makes some great statements about life. It's not a 'drug film', it's not a 'youth film''s a film about life and how we're all pretty much feeling our way through darkness to try and find some meaning and some vague destination that we really just don't know.
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Loved it!!
GArudedog27 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Something tells me, the people who gave this film a bad review are most likely fans of The Core or Gravity. Toad Road to me is a masterpiece of filmography. I couldn't walk away. I kept asking myself "Is this really happening?" Are they acting? The creepy music, the grainy images, and the whole mystery of Toad Road left me only wanting more. I wanted to know more about Sara, the director, and the rest of the cast. The credits roll, and I swallowed my gum. No spoilers here. Real Film buffs watch and love. All others, keep trying to find out how to lose a guy in ten days. Do not research this film prior to watching. I would almost like to see a documentary about the film. I don't know why the film has been overlooked, perhaps its the name. I admit, I skipped over it multiple times trying to find that diamond in the ruff amongst the sea of coal usually found on streaming movie accounts. Well, this is one. Like Lovely Molly, I was left disturbed, but satisfied.
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Toad Road is a trip down the rabbit hole
C.H Newell7 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I liked Toad Road. It's probably one of those films people are really divided on, but I think for a film that isn't perfect, it still does a pretty good job.

The whole film has a very documentary style feel. For people who've never experienced drugs or the people who have while managing to never really slip into the whole lifestyle, the characters in Toad Road may seem unrealistic, maybe even foolish. Yes, they're definitely a bunch of druggies, fairly ridiculous crowd, but for those like myself, luckily I turned my life around – that's a whole other tale unto itself, who've been into that lifestyle, these characters are all too painfully real.

The acting is fairly good. One of my favourite bits concerning the acting was Jones' voice-over as Sara. It played over various portions of the film. Most effectively, Banker used the voice-over narration to really drive home the points where James is really going insane, straight off the deep end, near the film's finale. She narrates his spiral downward, as he essentially is recalling her tell him about what happens as you pass through each gate on the way to Hell. Some really chilling moments, which I enjoyed a lot. Spooky stuff.

Though there are some good moments, and certainly scenes which add to characters of both James and Sara, the pacing starts to really drag in several spots.

The finale of the film is a bit hindered by the fact there's no real huge climax. It almost feels as if there should've been more additional scenes involving the aftershock of Sara's disappearance – it seems like the police went really soft on James. Although we see a few scenes where James is being interrogated, I feel like those were the scenes which ultimately lacked sincerity. We get a lot of reality, documentary style moments in the early half of Toad Road, but once it starts to shift into a more mystery/thriller genre for the last half, it lacks the composition of a real drama. The switch from the reality-based portion of the beginning to a forced dramatic and thrilling angle didn't work. I didn't particularly think the cop interrogating James was really great either. Not terrible, just not great. It didn't feel as if those bits matched up to the rest of the film. Even the closing moments of the finale, those worked very well with the atmosphere and tone built up by the first half of the film. I just think they would've benefited by either giving the cops more screen time and making it feel as reality driven as the earlier scenes, or just cut out those parts. The last quarter of the film comes off a bit sloppy.

Though there are some flaws here, I think Toad Road is a pretty decent horror outing. Certainly for an independent horror film. There's a lot of visual flair here, and you can tell Banker has an eye for beauty in horror. That being said, I did have a problem with some pacing issues here, and if they could be ironed out I think this would be an even better film. I still loved it. While there were small bits I felt held it back, overall Toad Road is good, and definitely a lot better than the hordes of low budget horror out there tackling the same zombies and vampires and masked killers as the hundreds which came before them. Even if you're divided after watching, it's hard not to admit the film has a certain charm to it, and a creepy, haunting quality.
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The definition of pointless
hcampbell-7047327 March 2018
This is a perfectly dull muddle of nonsense for almost an hour, then from out of nowhere a weak attempt at a plot shows up! Seriously though, Toad Road is a mess of a movie saved only bybsolid performances. We get just short of an hour of aimless drug abuse and dialogue before our "filmmaker" seems to have remembered that a plot is a requirement in a movie ansd, oh yeah, this is a horror movie. Our leads then wander off looking for the seven gates of hell, when all along the very movie they are stuck in is hell enough. In short, some talented young actors working with a minimal script and a pretentious director equals a bad movie.
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Nothing will come of nothing
begob26 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Horror turns metaphor into reality. This one leaves it vague, so not quite a horror. Maybe ghost story is a better description.

I wasn't glued to it, but the naturalistic style was enjoyable along with the improvisation. The lead parts are played well and the way one overtakes the other is well paced.

It's an odd piece that works nicely, leaving no consolation in the end and no bogus morality - just nihilism. Not much more to say about it really.

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