Sleeper: Munger Road

A locally made horror movie comes to VOD.

Bruce Davison, left, and Randall Batinkoff in Munger Road

Digital video has made local, low-budget horror movies a dime a dozen, but Columbia College grad Nicholas Smith’s Munger Road was one of last year’s most pleasant surprises. It’s a film made with the kind of atmosphere, craft and affection that seem to be steadily vanishing from Hollywood, as studios grow more addicted to easy, F/X-abetted shocks. Four St. Charles high-schoolers head out to the eponymous haunted spot (the urban legend predates the film), not knowing that a child killer has just escaped from prison. While cops (Bruce Davison and Randall Batinkoff) hunt for the murderer, whom they suspect has returned home, the kids experience increasingly strange occurrences when their car breaks down in the woods. The film is clearly indebted to Halloween and, to some degree, Paranormal Activity, and like both of those films, it has a certain crudeness: The dialogue can be amateurish, and the last act suffers from continuity issues. But the teens-in-danger strand is sensationally scary, making resourceful use of a limited location, strategic blackouts and offscreen space. It’s rare to see a first feature that maintains suspense for nearly all of its 85 minutes. (Available on VOD and DVD Tue 11.)

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