Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2011 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 19th, 2011
Fear the skies!
This might be the best Syfy original horror movie I've seen in...gosh, I can't even recall that last one I saw that didn't make want to smack my face into a George Foreman Grill.
A group of young, dopey friends pile into a rented motor home and begin a European road trip with all the earnestness and excitement soon-to-be murder victims typically display. Their travels take them deep into the armpit of Ireland, where they bump into an enclave of weirdo gypsies that lays down a fearsome curse: they will be relentlessly stalked by a gigantic bird-thing. And the only thing preventing their heads to get ripped of my talons is a mythical pendant, which is sought by another group of weirdo townsfolk.
Translation: Ireland blows.
I'm serious: Roadkill is one of the better things to be vomited out of Syfy's movie-mill in quite some time. And, yes, I understand that is damning with faint praise and not a ringing endorsement, but I stand by the fact I was pleasantly surprised and noticeably not bored or annoyed; a foreign experience when faced with an entry in the much-maligned Maneater series.
For one, Roadkill just comes across as a better made movie than dreck featuring giant pythons, boas, croc-o-potamuses, and what not. Director Johannes Roberts has a slightly irritating affinity for tight close-ups, yet he still is able to pump out a film that actually looks like it might have cost more than the aggregate cost of a week's worth of high school hot lunches. He has a knack for shooting action and hits all the right beats for the semi-scary reveals.
Most impressive is his smart use of the creature. He doesn't hold it back, Jaws-like, opting instead to show off the creation right away and keep the mutant-bird-fueled mayhem rolling out consistently until the finale. The budget's not there for a high-end piece of CGI, but its suitable enough and easily one of the better crafted beasties to grace the Maneater label. Roberts supports the okay computer rendering with clever shots that don't leave the animators hung out to dry; the result is a surprisingly effective winged terror that generates a moderate amount of suspension. That's a win.
The characters still remain cannon fodder, but these movies are never about the victims. They're about the creature (nifty), supplemental bad guys (reclusive Irish gypsy hillbillies FTW), and the nature of the kills (enjoyable and gory for a TV movie release). Using this calculus, I'm calling Roadkill a modest success.
A nothing of a DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, zero extras.
Apparently pigs are taking to the skies, too! A Maneater movie doesn't stink.
Not Guilty. Yeah, I went there.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated