Myths and urban legends are most effective in horror movies when filmmakers stick with simplicity. It’s what makes most legendary villains in the genre resonate with audiences. The Curse of Buckout Road is a film that does the exact opposite, further proving why less is always more.
The movie cooks up several ideas that have the potential to be creepy, including menacing murderers and historical horror stories that make your skin crawl. The premise is carried into the supernatural dimension as characters are terrorized and possessed in their dreams by these tall tales. This would be a recipe for some good, pre-Halloween chills, except that The Curse of Buckout Road is too eager to use every scary story simultaneously; no matter how unpolished the encompassing narrative may be.
It’s interesting to watch The Curse of Buckout Road so quickly after August’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, even though the timing is entirely coincidental. The Guillermo del Toro adaptation of the gothic book series had multiple maniacs, but the movie allowed them to have their own time to shine during scenes that could’ve been standalone short films. The same individualized formula could’ve worked in The Curse of Buckout Road. However, director/co-writer Matthew Currie Holmes (along with co-writer Shahin Chandrasoma) interprets these scary villains as cogs in a big machine. By giving these gruesome characters more responsibility to carry the movie, they also receive more screen time. And by the time they’ve been fully exposed, all of the mystery behind the horror has evaporated.
The Curse of Buckout Road was a big winner at 2017’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival; taking home the coveted Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay awards. Clearly, the flick is working for some audiences. But, movie goers looking for suspense may be as underwhelmed as I was.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie