Directed by: John Dahl.
Starring: Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn.
Somewhere in the earlier years of the new millennium, this film cropped up. Not many knew about it and most ended up seeing it on DVD. I remember seeing it many years ago on the shelf, it didn't look appealing, but it did have a review written on the front of it (then again, what bad straight-to-DVD looking film doesn't?), but I picked it up and I am glad I did.
The story follows college student Lewis who is prepared to travel across country to see Venna, his 'friend' miles away who doesn't realize he has an interest in her. On the way through, he passes a police station where he hears word of his brother, once again being held in a cell. As they travel across country, they buy a CB scanner to keep tabs on the cop's whereabouts and to have some fun with the other truckers. When they mess with one of them, it leads to a horrifying trip to not only stay alive, but to save Venna. There are so many key things that make this film work so well, but it still isn't as original as it could be. The screenplay co-written by 'Lost' and M:i:III' man J.J Abrams and unknown Clay Tarver is a strong point. Although it has its fair share of clichés to help introduce the thrills and scares, its everything around them that work. In any common thriller (or film in general), the structure consists of 3 parts....simply, a beginning, middle and end. As it is in any formulaic film, the thrills happen at the climax, with no real relevance for the first two acts.....Roadkill is different. Within the first 45 minutes, we are given a films worth of intensity and excitement, with a mere 10 minutes of down time before it picks right back up for the last 30. The film never tries to focus on its characters because that could be a downfall for the film, making it strangely paced. Instead, it is tightly paced and delivers pure adrenaline, with John Dahl, who builds suspense deftly and delivers an intense atmosphere and style, with a great feel of such classics as 'Christine'. The acting ensemble could have done with an upgrade, although Steve Zahn can be a comic genius and he has his silly moments here, no one else takes the stand. Paul Walker is as terrible as always, with his sudden outbursts, lack of control and his terrible 'scanning eyes' and 'bobbing head' trademarks that he does so much and Leelee Sobieski just adding a visual touch to the film (she is better than this)....thankfully it doesn't falter the film. And out of the 3, Ted Levine's voice has more depth and skill than all of them combined, its quite chilling.
It can't pass through without having its clichés, but what we do get is a tightly structured, brilliantly directed thrill ride that is tense and highly enjoyable. A very solid B-movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.