Tiny budgets work wonders on ghost movies—it's what's not shown that truly frightens, as any first-year film-school mook should know. Filipino writer-director Yam Laranas understands: His three-part, virtually effects-free serial-killer/spook-show mash-up The Road turns the scantest of plots and a familiar, reverse-motion chronology (which actually fits the story's fatalistic framework) into something grave and lingering. It helps that virtually every shot, courtesy of Laranas himself, is ravishing. The movie starts in 2008, as a newly minted hero cop (T.J. Trinidad) with a shady past investigates the disappearance of three whiny teens on an abandoned country road. Supernatural shenanigans are to blame—the kids encounter a driverless car and a horrifically burned spirit, and not everyone makes it out alive. (The ghosts here are fascinatingly noninteractive, somehow making them that much scarier.) The Road then flashes back a decade to a related but unsolved case that illuminates the earlier segment; two young sisters (Rhian Ramos and Louise de los Reyes) are kidnapped, tethered, and tormented Martyrs-style by a backwoods goon (Alden Richards) before another shift backward exposits the sticky details of this lad's sickness and reveals his true identity. Call it a haircut of Psycho with ectoplasmic additives, The Road still has a whispering menace and visual grandeur all its own.
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