Movie Review: Toad Road (2012, Dir. Jason Banker)

Toad Road (2012) Movie Review

I have a confession to make, everybody. When Occupy Wall Street was going on, I happened to side with the people who were against Wall Street. I’m not a fan of banks in general, but those kids had a point. Rich people have always, and will always, suck.

But, I just watched Toad Road and now I don’t know what to believe. I saw these fucking kids time and time again at those goddamn rallies. The same kids that live off credit lines while living out a self-righteous minimalist lifestyle that outsources their cash to drugs and cover charges are the kids that pollute the story of Toad Road. I want to show this movie to the Obama administration, just so that he can make Jason Banker’s film a federal crime against the progression of culture by ruining the namesake of art so badly that it’s offensive.

The fucked up thing is Toad Road could be an awesome movie — if it wasn’t handled as delicately as a rape. Psychedelic horror is my jam, and with a central romance story in there, that’s even better. But Toad Road lacks substance wholly, instead allowing some garbage off-shoot of mumblecore (swearcore? Is that a thing? Mentally deficient idiots thrown in front of a camera and just swearing in different cadences time and time again?) and in turn, creating obtuse, hipster garbage. There’s nothing visually interesting, there’s no characters to care about, and there’s no conflict to really become invested in.

Experimental cinema is virtually costless to make, even though it’s labor intensive and entirely hinged on a subjective sense of poetic cohesiveness. It’s that cohesiveness that gives the project an intention, purpose and launching point for which many interpretations are then begotten. Toad Road wants to be experimental so bad, but utterly fails: the film opens with footage of a generally disinteresting party, in which genitals are shown, people act dumb, and faces are blurred. That’s right: Toad Road didn’t even get releases for certain people involved directly in the film. It didn’t even have the courtesy of prefixing the title with “Jackass Presents“.

Toad Road DVD Cover

If you like your movies written, shot interestingly or given an appropriate score, well you’re not only shit out of luck, but go fuck yourself. For an anguishing 76 minutes, Toad Road screams at you, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME BECAUSE I’M INTERESTING.” The addition of disgustingly self-important narration that’s supposed to camouflage the empty visualization of the story as creepy and intentional is even more aggravating. It’s low budget filmmaking at its worst, without concept or innovation or beauty. It’s a shallow, bland mass of fuck, swollen out of something that should be suspenseful but is instead the worst.

If you’re looking for enjoyment or interest in an experience, the following would be suitable substitutions for Toad Road: Holocaust museums, train accidents, pirated copies of Mitch Glazer’s Passion Play dubbed by unsigned hip hop artists, and the stand-up comedy of Iliza Schlesinger. There’s nothing here, folks. Just time you’ll never get back, seeing things you can experience if you drive to the local basement that’s acting as a performance center and drinking wheat ale while watching men with ear gauges talk about how scary their hiking trip was. If this is the kind of movie SpectreVision is getting behind, I’m fucking mortified to see what else they’re putting out.

The worst part is, however, just how shameless and proud the film is of it’s derivative, hipper-than-thou product. It wholeheartedly believes that just because it’s unconventional and low rent that it’s interesting, different, and transgressive. In reality, Toad Road is meek and uninvolved, impotent with its own potential and too dumb to accept the humility of a shitty project. The film’s saving grace is that it can be shut off and forgotten, or possibly to remain as the punchline for every joke among horror fans.

It’s no Bellflower. It’s no Resolution. It’s no Magic Magic. No, Toad Road is a non-stop cinematic recycling of barf, waiting to see just who may be ignorant enough to convince themselves that its cool. Well to quote our second Christ, George Carlin: “Let me tell you something, Skeezix. You ain’t cool. You’re fucking chilly, and chilly ain’t never been cool.”

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