In the tradition of mashing sub-genres together to get something entirely new and interesting, full credit goes to micro-indie avant garde chiller Toad Road for merging the wasted youth drug drama with the urban-legend horror flick. The experience of watching this quite vérité experiment is akin to taking essence of Drugstore Cowboy and infusing it into the broth of The Blair Witch Project whilst dropping a mint-leaf of Picnic at Hanging Rock on the side for garnish. Using the syntax of losing oneself of those campfire wilderness spook stories as a metaphor for ever increasing drug use is wonderful in both concept and execution.
Sara is the bright young thing, ripe as a peach and innocent to a degree who is played by Sara Anne Jones, a NYC model with real acting chops. She starts hanging out romantically with James (James Davison) and thus, incidentally, with his circle of druggie pals. Initially she abstains from using, content to watch them horse around with each other when they are high which consists, I suppose, of the usual stuff. You know, they make out, puke, fall down stairs, pull a condom through their nostrils out of their mouth and light each others pubic hair on fire for kicks. The suggestion of drug use and sex is palpable. Slowly, Sara’s curiosity gets the better of her and she uses some light substances, the so-called ‘gateway drugs’; albeit with all the excessive drinking going on, perhaps at 17 or whatever, all of us are through the first ‘gate’ anyway. In the mean time, during daylight hours, her relationship with Jason continues to develop in the dreamy but fun sort of way that many fantasize first love might be. The contrast between jackass level group mayhem on the drug binges and the casual and positive intimacy with their alone-ness is the first hook the film film as to offer. Even if you think these characters are initially vapid or douchey (one of James’ friends attempt to emotionally guilt Sara into a sexual encounter is nevertheless particularly well achieved) or find the few instances of exposition a tad clunky, you can tell there is some serious filmmaking happening by the intentional contrast of tone and aesthetic.