Thursday 28 September 2017

Early warning - John Snadden gives us a preview of PURGATORY ROAD (2017), made in the US by Australian Mark Savage

US based Australian film-maker, Mark Savage*, recently sent me a preview copy of his new film, PURGATORY ROAD. I liked this film a lot and am very happy to have written the following review.

Mark Savage's last film STRESSED TO KILL (2016) was a welcome change of direction for him. With a name star (Armand Assante) and a well-honed script, this movie was a very dark and enjoyable take on the blurring of self-help and personal vengeance.

Mark's new film is PURGATORY ROAD, his latest collaboration with STRESSED TO KILL producer/co-writer, Tom Parnell. It's a genre horror pic that covers one family and many years as we see the sins of a father being visited upon his two sons - and their long awaited atonement which couldn't be more sick or twisted.

PURGATORY ROAD is also quite timely as it deals with an unstable demagogue appealing to the citizens of America's hinterland. Vincent (Gary Cairns) is a defrocked Catholic priest who offers salvation and confession to the needy and the shady of rural Mississippi. He preaches from a four-wheel tabernacle daubed with "Jesus Saves" slogans. A purpose built confessional fills out most of the van.
His driver and assistant is Michael (Luke Albright), Vincent's brother, who is mostly racked with guilt and views Vincent with an uncomfortable mix of awe and disgust.

Cinematically, Vincent exhibits more than a touch of Tony Perkins (PSYCHO, CRIMES OF PASSION) as this dog collared American psycho ; his calm demeanour often repressing a volcanic rage. His soul saving and throat slitting continues unchecked as he and Michael prowl the back roads of Mississippi. The local law officers are at best indolent and at worst incompetent. And the church hierarchy's only concern is that the unofficial Vincent might be tarnishing the brand. (How familiar is all this?!)

PURGATORY ROAD looks and sounds extra good with DOP Andrew Giannetta giving this pic a distinct Euro look, and effectively capturing the film's increasing dread, especially in the night scenes. The score by Swedish muso, Glen Gabriel, is excellent in its unobtrusive way, and later helps ratchet up the tension as the brothers' grip on reality begins to falter.

Eventually the devil comes a the guise of Mary Francis (Trista Robinson), a young woman with a penchant for big bikes, red jackets, sleazy sex and the taste of fresh human blood. Like good psychotherapy, the movie finally returns to its origins and it's from this point director Savage lets rip with one helluva violent, god-fearing finale - of which, I guarantee, there are scenes which you definitely won't be expecting.
For exploitation and horror fans, a trip down PURGATORY ROAD is highly recommended.

*As a disclaimer, I will say I have known Mark Savage for nearly 30 years and consider him to be a good friend. We're both life-long film enthusiasts who also share a passion for Asian cinema.

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