Nowhere Road (2011) – By Jon Reino

The timeline of a "short" is both a blessing and a curse. How can you pack a three act structure into such a tiny package? Sometimes in the case of the short, less is more. Nowhere Road, directed by Benjamin Dynice, packs great cinematic punch without over burdening the viewer. Perfectly timed and cinematically tight, Nowhere Road is an indie horror festival gem.

Krin, Penny, and Jesse are a group of college aged kids stuck out on a dessert road. Just when Jesse begins to give up on fixing their broke down car, their luck changes. Out on the horizon approaches an RV and, reluctantly, they hop in with redneck mountain lion hunters Chet and Bernie. Once inside, the young group grows more and more uncomfortable. Chet tries to play the macho man card to impress Krin but only manages to spill blood all over her from a bag with a mountain lion’s head inside. Chet offers for her to go change her shirt in the back of the RV and keeps Jesse as far from them as possible so he can make a move for himself. Meanwhile in the front, blond innocent Penny befriends the slightly flustered Bernie. She makes cute conversation which leaves Bernie a little confused and smitten. But in the back of the RV, Chet finally makes his move. Jesse barges in to check on Krin and what happens next is a twist that no one will have seen coming.

The traditional three act is perfectly structured in this fourteen minute thriller. You learn just enough about the characters in the first act to feel satisfied that you know who they are without wasting any time getting right into the story. The second act is shocking and surprising, with plenty of beat to beat action. And the third act is unexpected, wholesome, and leaves the viewer asking "what’s next?" without feeling cheated. Many short films suffer from somewhat of an unsatisfying or even missing third act, but Nowhere Road ends with power.

This film is beautifully shot, especially the outdoor exteriors in the beginning of the film. Throughout the whole film the visuals are tight and beautiful, there was obvious forethought given to the quality and professionalism and it really pays of. Well lit, the mood in the RV is eerie and uncomfortable, and the moonlit exteriors are beautiful and realistic. The sexual and gory scenes are tasteful, not showing more than you need to see to get the full effect, and again utilizing the "less is more" motto. Violence is used as a cinematic tool rather that a flashy bloodbath typically seen in your average horror flick. The visuals, editing, and sound are tight and professional, every beat is well timed and the feeling you get from watching this film is "why don’t all horror films look this good?" The soundtrack is also strong and effective. The acting and direction are spot on, you might not have heard of any of these actors before but they all give fantastic performances.

With professionalism and impact, Nowhere Road deserves the accolades it has been given at it’s numerous stops on the festival circuit, including Best Horror at the Holly Shorts Film Festival and the Award of Excellence at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, among others. This short is beyond worth the watch, at fourteen minutes what do you have to lose? This film is more thriller than horror, and more intense than gory. Should Nowhere Road be screening near you, hit the road and see it.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website here, or the trailer here.