People love urban legends. Who has not tried to summon Bloody Mary while spending the night at a friend’s house or gone to the place in town where an unseen presence pushes their car? Even in our more technological age, people appreciate a good story. Just as passionate are the people who adhere strictly to science. The internet is full of forums of the two groups arguing with each other. The Curse of Buckout Road from Vertical Entertainment is a fun urban legend movie that attempts to tackle both sides of the argument.
The story is about an infamous road in the New York area. Buckout Road is known for a dark history that includes with burnings and albino killers. Aaron returns from college and after an apparent suicide learns more about the supposedly cursed road. As he does more research, he learns more about the area, but none of it can be true. Right?
Director Matthew Curie Holmes does an excellent job behind the camera. Early on, professor Stephanie Hancock is delivering a lecture about on modern myths. With each example, Curie does more than focus on Hancock. He shows what she is talking about. These moments are appropriately lit. The inevitable conclusion to each story fits the context of these scenes. They are urban legends with one goal: get to a jump scare. It is also an engaging opening that gives audiences an idea of what they are about to see.
Holmes also wrote The Curse of Buckout Road and his love of horror clearly comes through. At times, the movie almost plays like a “best of” reel. There are cannibals, ghosts, and witches. It may sound like too much, but again the framework of the plot makes it work. The stories we tell each other change to accommodate the times so it makes complete sense various stories would be attributed with Buckout Road.
This is more than just a series of cool ghost stories, however. Each myth is shown in a different way. The best is the story that takes place in the 1970s. The movie has a grindhouse film look to it. There are ruined filmstrip skips as the story progresses. (Holmes seemed to like these parts also as they are seen the most.) In a nice touch, audiences can also hear the projector turning. As good as it looks, since these scenes go on for a while, it can be a little distracting.
The Curse of Buckout Road builds nicely. In between the history of the patch of road, the story in modern time is also progressing. The audience gets a good idea of character motivations. It is during these moments, the movie argues about myth vs reality. The opening teases there will be some strong debate, but it never quite lives up to that promise. It is never bad, it is just typical “I thought I knew better but now I realize I don’t” resolutions.
Where things really fall apart is the ending. There is a twist that leads to an ending that many would not consider the happiest. It is brave, fits into the narrative, and is very well shot. There is a sense of just how powerful the curse is. The actual movie ends on a much happier note. An argument can be made as to what is true, but either way it looks like Holmes changed the ending up to make it a little friendlier.
The Curse of Buckout Road is a fine ghost story. Using the idea of local myths, the movie tells a fun tale that is both engrossing and scary. Despite being steeped in lore, it is strong enough to not rely on the standard tropes of the genre. This is an effective horror movie that is perfect to watch with a room full of friends.