Featured DVD Review: Munger Road
Munger Road is a horror film that opened in limited release. If you pay attention to limited releases, you should know how poorly that genre tends to do in limited release. However, this film had an explosive opening earning more than $36,000 in its one theater during its opening weekend. But after a strong opening weekend, it really struggled to maintain its audience and quickly collapsed. Did it deserve this opening weekend? Was its quick collapse justified? Was it a matter of the wrong genre for limited release?
The film begins in Saint Charles, Illinois, near Scarecrow Festival. Four friends, Joe, Corey, Scott, and Rachel, are getting together to do some paranormal investigation. There's a road near where they live, Munger Road, that's rumored to be the site of a haunting. Either a bus full of kids were killed on the train tracks, or perhaps a little girl was murdered nearby. There are plenty of stories about that road. One of them is that cars that are stopped on the track will be pushed out of the way by an invisible hand. (On a side note, this is apparently a true local legend.)
Meanwhile, we meet Chief Kirkhoven, who receives some bad news. A serial killer, Guenther, was being transferred when his prison bus crashed. The guards died; he escaped. The Mayor (Art Fox) is not happy about this, not because there is a potential serial killer in his town, but because the serial killer could hurt Scarecrow Festival, which is important to the town. (I immediately thought of the mayor in Jaws.) The Chief has some history with Guenther; he even performed his wedding ceremony. Yes, Guenther was a priest before he was caught as a serial killer and the Chief was the one who caught him. He wants to catch him before he strikes again, but there's not much he can do without any leads. He does get a lead when there's a carjacking, a fatal carjacking, and soon there's activity near his old house.
After the four kids get to the haunted spot, something happens, just like the two guys said it would and they are convinced they have proof of the paranormal. Unfortunately, the girls still think it is a hoax and are able to poke a few holes in their evidence. (The ladies didn't see them put baby powder on the car's bumper, so when the guys show them the hand print, there's no way to prove it wasn't there the whole time.) Since no one is having a good time, they decide to head back home. After having a bit of trouble starting the car, they drive for a bit before Corey realizes turning around is the fastest way home. However, when they get to the train track a second time, their car just dies. They can't restart the car and none of their cell phones can get signals. In fact, their cell phones all seem stuck at 11:14.
This is probably a good place to stop the plot summary. There are good parts and bad parts to Munger Road. The acting for the most part is good and the mood is well done, but that only goes so far. Unfortunately, the characters are not exactly engaging. For instance, it's clear Joe and Corey are having some serious relationship issues, but without enough background information about these characters, without enough reason to care, we don't get invested in their relationship. Instead, we are forced to watch four people moping in a car for 30 minutes with the occasional angry word. I did like the banter between Chief Kirkhoven and Deputy Hendricks, on the other hand. Also, while I really did like the mood, the pay-off isn't worth it the wait. In the end, and this major spoiler territory, Chief Kirkhoven learns that Guenther was killed the night before, at 11:14 and then the screen goes black and "To Be Continued" appears on the screen. That's a lame way to end the film. It did make more in theaters than it cost to make and maybe it will pull in enough the home market to justify a sequel, but in the meantime, what are viewers to do?
There are a number of short featurettes starting with The Legend. There's others on The Town, Characters, The Team, and Post-Production. It's just over 30 minutes in total extras, which is pretty good for a limited release.
Munger Road has a good setup, good actors, good mood... I just wish it went somewhere. It is hard to recommend a movie when you need to see the sequel, but the sequel hasn't been made yet. Maybe give the DVD a rental while you wait for a possible sequel.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2012-10-06