“There is a part of Westchester, New York, that you would be smart to avoid, especially at night. That area is Buckout Road, home to every kind of urban legend imaginable.” The adults may scoff, the teachers may take an intellectual step back and debate the creation and destruction of myths in class, but still the locals all know of the Curse of Buckout Road, the Devil’s Path where three witches were burned at the stake.
Is it that the reputation attracts those who are already disturbed, or is there genuinely an atmosphere of evil which afflicts the area, for certainly it has known more than its share of tragedy over the last two centuries, murders and suicides, even though some of the more outrageous stories, of albino cannibals and the woman veiled in white who carries a lamp through the dark night, cannot be true.
Returning home to White Plains, Aaron Powell’s already uncomfortable reunion with his only remaining relative is made more awkward by his grandfather’s preoccupation with the recent death of a teacher found hanged at Buckout Road; a patient of Doctor Powell’s, she had come to him only days before complaining of nightmares and sleepwalking.
Making friends with another long-term patient closer to his own age, Cleo Harris, Aaron finds she is also having nightmares, as are her friends Derek and Erik Ganzer with whom she made a video for a class project debunking urban myths, in particular those associated with Buckout Road, but despite their rational mindset they begin to believe their actions may have brought the curse down on them.
Sat on the shelf for over two years since filming completed, The Curse of Buckout Road is the directorial debut of Matthew Currie Holmes from a script co-written with Shahin Chandrasoma based on a story by Johnny Pascucci, a mixed bag which doesn’t quite hang together, all the more frustrating as many of the ideas are good and the production is competent.
With The Hunger Games‘ Evan Ross as Aaron and Wynonna Earp‘s Dominique Provost-Chalkley as Cleo, their childhoods are complicated, unhappy and tied with the legends, but the narrative relies equally on the adults, Ready or Not‘s Henry Czerny as Detective Roy Harris, frustratingly single minded in his approach to the contradictory evidence, The Dead Don’t Die‘s Danny Glover as Lawrence Powell and Astronaut‘s Colm Feore as the Reverend Mike Reagan, all underwritten considering their importance and Glover and Feore little more than cameos.
With heavy exposition provided via dream sequences rather than research, experience or insight, Holmes draws together many sources from Sumerian mythology to more modern horror imagery, but creating a seventies flashback is not so simple as putting a grainy colour filter over fake moustaches, and although he does manage to occasionally surprise with a clever jump scare the convolutions of the jumping timeframe break the atmosphere rather than building tension.
With a final scene which could more convincingly have been five months rather than five years later, the depicted character not having aged in that time, had the idea it presents appeared earlier in the film rather than being a potential hook for a sequel which will likely never happen it would have made The Curse of Buckout Road a very different but much more entertaining film which would have better showcased the talent of the leads.
The Curse of Buckout Road will be available on digital download from 28th October