Monday, March 23, 2020

A Californian Survival Trip: Darkslide (2020)

Darkslide (Portugal/USA, 2020) (AKA Road to Red)
Rating: **
Starring: Sean Gray, Chris Blasman, Renee Dorian

After finding out that his kid brother Paul plans on ditching his position as a world champion skateboarder so he could live a freer life, Bruce loses his cool and confronts his bro, chastising him for his brash decisions and how he's wasting his talents as a sportsman by giving up. Paul retaliates by driving off in the middle of the night, never to be heard of until three weeks later when his empty car's found parked at a remote alpine lake, along with a surfboard floating on the freezing water, but no trace of his body.

Bruce, feeling guilty that he caused his brother's disappearance, decides to make things right by joining four of his friends on an epic road trip one day to film Paul's planned movie, all the while enjoying everything California can offer from strong waves for surfing on to flat dunes for grinding a gnarly board. All is well until the gang opted to stop by Paul's last spot as a way of pay respect, not knowing they'll discover what really happened to Bruce's brother and that they'll soon have to suffer the same fate.

Lengthily running for two hours, Darkslide (2020) is practically two one-hour movies in between a transition, with the first being a sports-themed road drama hammily narrated by the movie's main protagonist as he shares philosophy regarding the "Californian dream" and his thoughts concerning Paul's disappearances. It's absent of horror unless you count the cheesy dialogue as nightmarish for the hilariously wrong reasons, which might as well be the only worthwhile jig in this half since it does get funnier on a shallow B-grade bad movie way the more it tries to be dramatic. (Not to say it doesn't work at some moments, but the tongue-in-cheek approach weighs in more to consider the direction as "balanced") There's also some sweet camera work and skate and surf stunts to be seen for those who are into those, all until the movie does a 180 on the tone and shifts everything into survival horror mode.

Now, this next half loses some points for originality as its basically a cheaper, not-so-ballsy-gory clone of The Descent (2005), with four out of five of the characters surviving a nasty fall and finding themselves trapped inside a cave maze with something lurking around with plans on either killing them or procreating with them. A good chunk of this is spent on the usual bickering, planning and claustrophobic amateur spelunking, and the horror elements isn't going to kick in until the last twenty minutes. Needless to say, Darkslide (2020) is a challenge to sit through if you're not patient or if you have a low tolerance for B-grade cheesy plotting as the last act's hardly that exciting, especially with the reveal as to what's hunting them in the cave.

Still, I can tell there's an idea of a working story or at least a fun one somewhere amidst all of that chunky cheddar and borrowed horror pieces so I will give the film some slack for their efforts. Sadly, there isn't enough of a rewarding payoff after all of that, so I still find Darkslide hard to recommend to anyone unless they're as curious as a cat veering dangerously close to an electrified fence; if you think you can handle it, then by all means jump over and try this movie out. If not, then you're gonna have a really long time tolerating this movie. A really long.

1 male found with a mauled face
1 male found dead, body hoisted on cave wall and left to rot
1 female had her face bashed in with a skateboard
1 male bitten on the neck, chest pried open
1 male had his gut pried open, bled to death
Total: 5

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