- The Magazine
A sharper, wittier horror trip than one might expect a movie titled after a sex act to be, David Del Rio’s Road Head (★★★☆☆) gives good laughs and suspense until the plot and pacing peter out along the way to the film’s gleefully gruesome climax. Not exactly full of twists and turns, the movie builds a fun ride upon crisp direction, bloody but not overdone horror mayhem, and solid performances.
Damian Joseph Quinn and Clayton Farris form a cute comic duo as vacationing L.A. couple Alex and Bryan, trekking through the Mojave in their cannabis-colored Chevy Astro van. “It was supposed to just be us,” Alex complains to Bryan, but, as it turns out, they have a tagalong in their mutual friend Stephanie, played by Elizabeth Grullon, who basically runs away with the movie.
Stephanie, smoking away her rage at the cheating boyfriend she left at home, has badass energy to spare even before the friends’ road trip takes a wrong turn into the killing grounds of a sword-wielding maniac. But she really steps up once they cross paths with the jacked, hooded menace known as the Executioner (Adam Nemet), who slices off the heads of travelers unlucky enough to pass through his domain.
Her friends, more often than not, don’t have her cojones or smarts, which isn’t a good look for the gays. Stephanie won’t be alone in wondering, “Why the fuck is your phone in the van, Alex?!”
Quinn, Farris, and, in particular, Grullon are tasked with selling some implausible turns in the perky script by Justin Xavier, who also wrote Del Rio’s indie horror debut, Sick for Toys. The main cast is up to the task, although the same can’t be said for the main villain, whose presence loses impact as soon as he starts talking.
Of the few other characters who show up in the desert, including a drag queen played by Misty Violet, Paul T. Taylor makes an impact as an off-the-grid weirdo, as does Sierra Santana, as the unfortunate passenger in the prologue who first suggests the shenanigans suggested in the title.
Stephanie’s boyfriend David (Clay Acker) also materializes, but as a figment of her imagination — and a means for the film to dramatize the inner workings of its standout character. Again, Grullon adds nuance to the silliness, but neither the concept nor Acker’s performance as David are that persuasive.
The occasional green-screen shots of the desert are more convincing, and on the whole, the movie’s a well-made, satisfying diversion — not the best you’ve ever had, but good enough to get you there.
Road Head is available for streaming on Prime Video. Visit www.amazon.com.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!