THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Munger Road is two movies in one, neither of which has a satisfactory ending. The first story involves a group of four teens who drive down the titular road to see if a local legend is true. The boys believe they can get video proof that ghosts of dead children hang around near a train intersection. Their girlfriends begrudgingly tag along, thinking that it's all just a big practical joke to freak them out. It should come as no surprise that some creepy things go on once their car inexplicably stalls out. This half of the movie is fairly decent. There are a few chills, and the film makes good use of atmosphere, playing on audience fears of the dark and the unexplained. There's nothing uber-frightening here, just some respectable old-fashioned things-that-go-bump-in-the-night antics.
The second movie involves two cops, played by Bruce Davison and Randall Batinkoff, who scour their city for an escaped killer who may be planning to terrorize the annual Scarecrow Festival. This is the more boring half. Writer/director Nicholas Smith hasn't yet mastered the art of integrating information effortlessly into a screenplay. Every time the cops come on screen, Munger Road bogs down in endless exposition. Even when they make their way through a spooky underground tunnel, the officers gab incessantly about the killer, what he did in the past, and what he may do in the future.
There are two problems with Munger Road. The first is that these two movies are never melded together. The shifts in tone are jarring, and every time you start to get a little invested in the teens' story, it jumps over to the cops. Is the escaped killer the same person/thing terrorizing the kids in the car? Is it even supposed to be? Who knows. Smith has no interest in telling us.
The second – and much, much bigger – problem is that the film does the unthinkable. After about 83 minutes, with every single plot thread left completely up in the air, Munger Road abruptly ends with the words “To Be Continued” filling the screen. Absolutely nothing is resolved. It's a humongous cheat, not to mention a complete insult to the audience. I felt like I'd wasted almost an hour-and-a-half of my life on a film that wasn't even going to bother giving me a complete story. My rage was sufficient that, in the unlikely event that there's a Munger Road 2 someday, I will avoid it like the plague.
The DVD contains five making-of featurettes, as well as two theatrical trailers.
( 1/2 out of four)
Munger Road is rated PG-13 for some violence and terror, brief language and teen smoking. The running time is 1 hour and 26 minutes.
Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at Lulu.com!