Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing a monster themed short called End of the Road (2015) by director J. Spencer. There really is no way to give a plot summary or review of this short without revealing the monster/theme so for those who do not want spoilers, skip to the last paragraph where I give a spoiler free summation of my thoughts. For everyone else, here is a brief plot summary courtesy of IMDB:
Betsy, a small-town waitress, offers a warm meal to an enigmatic drifter in a rundown diner. Little does she know she’s let a vicious werewolf loose on the diner’s colorful population.
Regular readers will already know, I love monster movies. A well made monster feature will always earn my greatest respect and praise. If said feature also manages to pull off the effects practically or at the very least has a well integrated/minimal CGI, it grows even more in my esteem. Now that I have that bias out of the way, let’s get into the review proper, shall we?
Our short starts with some overt Red Riding Hood references that make it very clear what sort of monster we will be meeting. Initially, the creature is hidden behind the face of a deceptively kind drifter, but over time it becomes more and more clear that he is hiding a deadly secret. Of course, savvy viewers (or those who read the description) will guess fairly quickly the drifter’s true identity, but the slow reveal of the monster lurking underneath is still exceptionally well handled.
Once our drifter goes full on creature, the action kicks into high gear. The direction during this scene is dynamic and fast paced which keeps the tension high. To further build a sense of anticipation, the werewolf is kept just out of sight for the majority of his transformation so that the audience has to knit together what he looks like from the few glimpses we are offered.
The werewolf rules themselves are slightly modified for this tale which lend an interesting slant to this interpretation. It is suggested that the drifter has been in werewolf mode for longer than just one evening. In fact, it is even implied that he is spending more and more time as a wolf each time he transforms. The fact that the drifter wants to remain human yet is becoming more werewolf adds a slightly Jekyll and Hyde slant to this story that makes me want to see more. Sadly, this is just a short so we may never know the full extent of the drifter’s struggle.
Honestly, I thought that Dmitrious Bistrevsky was fantastic in this piece as he perfectly portrayed the tragedy of his curse without. I will admit, that a few of the roles are a bit hammy, but usually it is either in character or for such a short amount of time that it never becomes grating. To me this is a great thing as the acting in shorts can often be over the top with very little nuance.
All in all, there are a few bumps along this road, but overall it proves to be a thoroughly satisfying creature feature. I would also recommend anyone viewing this stick around through the credits as there is a tantalizing tease of more story to explore. I am really hoping that someday we may see a more expanded version of the mythos the writer/directer was setting up as I find this particular interpretation intriguing.