If we have learned anything from the cold open of Army of the Dead, it’s that road head usually leads to disaster. The same can be said about the characters in Road Head, who are way too horny to be operating a two-ton vehicle at the same time. The dark comedy is the sophomore feature for director David Del Rio and writer Justin Xavier, who have previously worked together on the 2018 Christmas horror Sick For Toys.
Lovers Bryan (Clayton Farris, Scream Queens) and Alex (Damian Joseph Quinn, Nazi Overlord) decide to take a trip to Isola Lake in the Mojave desert with their stoner friend Stephanie (Elizabeth Grullon, Killing Lazarus), in an effort to make her forget about her cheating ex-boyfriend David (Clay Acker, Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies), which is easier said than done. When they finally arrive at their destination, the lake Bryan so fondly remembered from his childhood, has completely dried up and vanished. So much for that idea.
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“…like a slapstick version of The Hills Have Eyes with villains that look like rejected Mad Max background characters.”
Driving back through the vast wasteland, Alex tries to cheer Bryan up with oral sex while Stephanie is taking a post-joint nap, but their fun is abruptly interrupted when they make a ghastly discovery: two severed heads in the middle of the road. The three friends are so shocked by the faces of death staring back at them, that they don’t notice the mean-looking stranger dressed in chainmail (Adam Nemet) sneak up behind them. On the run from the sword-wielding maniac and at the mercy of the harsh elements of the desert, our protagonists are pushed to their limits as they fight to keep their heads attached to their shoulders.
What follows is a slasher scenario we’ve all seen before, except there is nowhere to hide in the desert. When our protagonists finally find some evidence of civilization in the form of a trailer home, it’s like they’re walking onto the set of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with meat hooks gently swaying in the wind like chimes and lumps of flesh slowly rotting in the sun, as if the Sawyer family was living in a junkyard.
Road Head goes more for laughs than scares. The tone is all over the place, jumping between a genuinely gritty survival thriller to a goofy yet bloody comedy. It’s like a slapstick version of The Hills Have Eyes with villains that look like rejected Mad Max background characters. The Executioner is intimidatingly tall, but other than that, he’s no more scarier than someone you would bump into at a Renaissance fair. The severed heads look real enough and the gore is decent, but many of the kills cut away from the action rather than letting us see the full practical effect.
The movie compensates for its low budget with its snarky dialogue. As you might expect, a large portion of the dialogue is penis talk, though there are also a few one-liners that land perfectly. However, some of my favorite moments in the film are when Stephanie and Alex are exchanging sass. Both Quinn and Grullon play their roles so well, and we really get a sense of how they feel about each other. And it’s exhilarating to see them finally conquer their fears and kick some ass.
But their sass levels are nowhere near as high as my favorite character, Felicity Fellatio Bones (David McKee, better known by their drag name Misty Violet), the “queen” of the junkyard cult. Unfortunately, Felicity is only on screen for a total of two scenes, but she shines as she knocks anyone who dares challenge her down a peg. Not the kind of shade you’re looking for in this desert. I definitely wanted to see more of her and learn more about the backwards kingdom she is a part of.
That is my main criticism about Road Head, that it left me wanting to see more. It had the potential of going to some wild places and got pretty close when it introduced some zany characters, but I felt it never went far enough into the deep end. I’m not sure if that was due to budgetary limits or because the filmmakers wanted to focus more on Stephanie‘s past, when they really should have given more attention to the predicament she finds herself in the present. All in all, Road Head is like…well, road head: the idea of it sounds fun and naughty, but the actual execution of it is awkward and ultimately unsatisfying, though it’s still worth attempting at least once just to see what it’s like. In a way, my thirst for more works to David Del Rio’s benefit. He and Justin Xavier clearly have good ideas. They will remain on my radar because I’m curious to see what they can pull off in the future with a decent budget and enough experience. Hopefully, they’ll bring back Misty Violet as well.
“[Road Head] had the potential of going to some wild places and got pretty close when it introduced some zany characters, but I felt it never went far enough into the deep end”
Road Head is produced by Delco-Cut Productions and distributed by Terror Films. The horror-comedy was available on VOD as of June 4th. Let us know what you thought of the film over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.