Michael Okum delivers in all areas, with his horror movie, Expressway to Your Skull, and truly grips hold of the viewer and pull them into the storyline, with a slow and patient build-up to achieve a full-length thrill ride, which excels the audience in to purchasing the movie to see all of the uniqueness in repeated viewings. Unbelievable artisan technique of using many avenues of techniques and with a highly limited cast, proving a small cast can achieve excellent results with a limited budget under an estimated $100,000.
The setup, fairly straight-forward, a thrill-seeking couple with a passion for sex and drugs, fuels the need to escape from the city life, for different reasons, Ed needs to for survival and stealing from his dealer while Amy desires to bond more deeply with Ed, as she lost faith in trusting him. Overall, the journey into the woods for higher spiritual enlightenment with usage of drugs creates a psychedelic dreamland to bask further to develop more of a connection into each other’s psyche. Now, if this sounds like a drug trip resulting in the brutality of harming each other, sorry wrong choice, because there’s two individuals to enter into the mix of powers occurring in the movie. At no time does the film screw into wondrous abandonment of senses, it stays rooted, focus on a hidden agenda and goal, but mixes the genres from romance to thriller to dark drama ending in horror. Ed (Paul S. Tracey) and Amy (Lindsay Atwood) meet the intriguing hermit Charlie (Mark Aaron) who already makes his appearance with creative designs to a believable vulnerable Cindy (Katie Royer), who he hope would become his spiritual connection. It is difficult not to provide too many details, as one really needs to discover this gem, especially as the scenes involving Aaron, a feisty man, trained in all elements of the survivability in the woods, firearms and knives, an intriguing mentality and yet at peace with the connection to a more evolve spiritual plane, of strength and love. Charlie has a deep and layered discovery awaiting the viewers, while Tracey and Atwood characters stay very engage with each other and thereby capture the attention of everyone.
Okum mixes great audio and blends popping of a bubble gum to that of shotgun blast, using lessons that take other filmmakers a few movies to conquer, and though his feature film, he accomplished productions of three short films prior this undertaking. He uses excellent foley material, and combining it to unusual sound, altering an editing sequence on purpose the reminds one of the tripping moments in the movie of the Doors, the creation of convincing the audience of the hallucinatory conjuring works incredibly well, never dumbing down the chemically advance state of discovering their own depths. However, in we learn that demons, devils and angels exist to guide the journey can destroy or create to new boundaries and bonds, the couple Ed and Amy learn much more about each other on this trips of sorts. The film becomes challenging, not difficult to understand or even follow, that remains very straightforward, the rising complexities of misdirection lay as spring loaded bear traps await for the next prey.
As the setup starts with a hitchhiker and later a couple heading into the woods for lovemaking and drug usage, all seems ready for slasher flick, ready for a psychopath killer, stalking in the woods, seeking trespassers for his own sick games. Nothing is further from the truth, Charlie’s presence adds volumes of depth just from his stature and echoes through his demeanor, measure only by his tone and affliction in stress of words. The story has a masterful touch of generating suspense, producing a film worth of tension filled terrorizing moments striving for the attention from every supporter of the independent market.
Expressway to Your Skull, earned a quality release from Brain Damage, a label synonymous with both indie filmmakers and ultra low-budgeted production, and while Okum, are both of those, he wallops the hell out the horror fans. The movie may feel it has a snail’s pace in the beginning, but that slowness actually transforms into the development of setting the pieces on a chessboard, each item a checklist of fleshing everyone’s intention. Needless to say, this film should remain on one’s to do list, for quite a while and relish in the delights of the psychotic state that evolves through manipulation and hurdles your mind to those creative movies of the 1970s and remember the “fun is just beginning”.