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What’s it About?

On the eve of the annual Scarecrow Festival, two St. Charles police officers search for a return killer the same night four teenagers go missing on Munger Road.

“Munger Road”

Directed by Nicholas Smith

7 out of 10

The night before the annual Scarecrow festival in St Charles, Illinois, 2 law enforcement Officers are put to the test. They have found out that an escaped lunatic  may be back in town to screw around with the festivities and not in a good way. The always reliable and capable actor  Bruce Davison (Triangle, X Men) plays Chief Kirkhoven who with his deputy, named Hendricks (Randall Batinkoff) are deeply involved in trying to find the escaped killer. They start diligently searching businesses, abandoned homes, back alleys and even a hotel looking for the madman.

While this is happening two young couples, led by Trevor Morgan (Jurassic Park 3, The Sixth Sense), are on their way to “Munger Road” A 6 mile stretch of road in Du Page county that runs north-south and at the railway crossing at Stearns road there has been said to be some supernatural activity.

Corey (Morgan) and his pals Joe (Brook Peoples) , Scott and Rachel intend to catch some video of something going bump in the night at the railway. At first, Corey and Scott are handsome dudes that are obnoxious, cocky and are acting just like typical young people who have way too much time on their hands.

After they leave a small cafe, which is searched later by Kirkhoven, the kids head out to Munger Road. During the ride, Corey and the rest talk (about nothing of real importance), argue and annoy each other. Once they finally get to Munger Road (which runs through the small outskirt towns, Bartlett and Wayne) Corey stops his vehicle and pulls out the video camera to try and document some supernatural goings on. At this point, Smith has already created tension between his 4 lead characters and when the film begins to inspool things get even more tense and more unnerving for them all.

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No horror flick about young people trying to catch a ghost is complete without some urban legend. Writer/Director Nicholas Smith (Dead Resin) weaves an interesting story here that is quite spooky and lends itself to familiar conventions but he succeeds in building appropriate mood and suspense. The legend speaks of a school bus full of young children being hit and destroyed by a train on Munger Road.

After they actually think they have recorded something the car breaks down and then they odd occurences and mystery begins for the 4 kids. Back at St. Charles, the officers are told that the kids have gone missing and the Mayor is harping about the festival and whether or not he can proceed with it.

Director Smith handles the 2 parallel stories nicely as he ties them up into each other. Davison here is solid and takes charge of his character in a unique performance. He’s driven and opposite Batinkoff he exhibits strength. Smith also has the kids slowly unravel until the tension becomes pretty rough. Joe thinks that Corey and Scott are up to no good and trying to fool her and Rachel regarding the ghost and the strange apparition that appeared on the video.

The boys try the old baby powder on the bumper trick to see if they get any hand prints. As they face the isolation, cold and the very creepy Munger Road the couples decide that one of them should get help. It turns out to be Corey. Later in a tense scene we find out what happens to Corey and there is a very cool scene with Joe involving texts and a dropped call.

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Director Smith aptly pulls in both story lines and then Joe eventually heads out herself to look for Corey. In St. Charles, Kirkhoven has Hendricks run out (from a tunnel they found that connects the Hotel) to the home of the escaped killer. He heads out hoping to meet the Chief at the house. Corey eventually is found by Joe at the same house and something quite terrifying ensues.

What I like about “Munger Road” is it’s identities. It’s part cop thriller and part supernatural mystery. It does feel like a horror film of course but I think Smith does a good job of weaving drama in there. I like the film on the very virtue of it not being a found footage movie. Yes, some scenes do take place in the woods and the conclusion involves a creepy house but it’s all shot very tight making it feel claustrophobic. No dizzying shaky cam here.

I like the script because Smith tells it straight forward and I love flicks about strange urban legends and people who return home from being either convicted or insane. “Halloween” anyone? “Munger Road” has one little hiccup. The film ends abruptly. No, not like “The Collector” abruptly. I mean really abruptly. Smith leaves us with an open ending to his rather no -budget little gem.

I hope we do see a sequel and I hope that Smith had to shoot that ending because he ran out of money and not ideas. When things get jus about wrapped up at the house just outside of “Munger Road”  the rug is pulled out from under us. In it’s defense though I must admit that getting us to stand on that rug was creepy ghostly fun. Give this one a go everyone! Enjoy.

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