Autumn Road

12/07/2021 06:34

Film: Autumn Road

Year: 2021

Director: Riley Cusick

Writer: Riley Cusick

Starring: Lorelei Linklater, Riley Cusick and Justin Meeks



This is a movie that I got turned on to thanks to Justin Cook as a screener. It is another one that I never heard of, but it is an independent film getting its 2021 release. This one falls into horror as well. The premise sounded interesting so I gave it a go. The synopsis is twin brothers running a haunted house and an aspiring actress are all affected by the disappearance of a young girl.

We start this off at the haunted house from the synopsis. It is run by the father of Charlie (Ranger Lerway) and Vincent (Jonas Lerway). Hanging out with them is a little girl who loves Halloween and scary stuff, Winnie (Maddy-Lea Hendrix). It is Halloween so they’re going to go trick or treating soon. Charlie doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t like horror as much as his brother does. This boy is hanging out in a hearse that is used as part of the haunted house. The rest go out, but they have to go early so the haunt can open up. While they’re gone, Winnie gets an old pocket watch from an old man.

Something horrific happens when they get back. Winnie is allergic to peanuts and one of the candies she received has them in it. She gives it to Charlie. He takes a bite and they end up kissing, not thinking of what could happen. This sends Winnie in a reaction. He freaks out and Vincent is there. He tells Charlie he will handle it, he just needs Charlie to keep quiet. Winnie disappears that night and no one knows what happened to her.

We then jump to the present. Charlie and Vincent, both now played by Riley Cusick, run the haunted house. We see that Vincent has a bit of an anger problem when a guest touches him and he attacks. Vincent has gotten a reputation from other things like this as well. Charlie runs the front and also works at a local diner to help make ends meet.

It is around here we meet Laura (Lorelei Linklater). She is the older sister of Winnie and when she disappeared, it affected not only her, but their mother of Kennedy (Lar Park-Lincoln). Laura is struggling with her identity. She doesn’t come home often and she isn’t satisfied with her acting career. Laura is dealing with more tragedy when her friend is hit by a car in front of her. This causes her to return home.

Once she does, she encounters Charlie who has something to tell her. Laura is lonely and in need of a friend. Vincent also seems interested in this young woman. He invites her out, where Charlie is hesitant. Vincent goes off the rails a bit by firing everyone at the haunt and decides to take it in an extreme direction. Charlie tries to stop him, but once Vincent has his mind made up, it isn’t possible. We also get to see the depths of Vincent’s madness and how dangerous he can be.

That will be where I stop my recap. Where I want to start with breaking this down is that we have a good premise here. We have this event where an accident happened and Winnie disappears. If the two come forward and get her help, then none of this happens. Instead, Charlie listens to his brother who is a sociopath. After this incident it has changed their lives forever. Laura, Charlie and Kennedy are all haunted by this. Vincent got a taste of something dark that he wants more of. Having this haunted house that they own is a great place for Vincent to work as well.

Something else that is good here is Laura and her character being lost. I felt the same way when I was fresh out of college. We were told that you go get your degree and then start life. You aren’t completely sure what that means. Laura is taking a different route. She wants to be an actress, but she isn’t in Los Angeles from what I can tell. She is struggling and it doesn’t help with the dark shadow of what happened to her sister. The pain is too much to come home. It looks like it tore their family apart so she avoids it. This movie is pushing that everyone involved needs to heal.

With all of the positives I’ve said about the story, this movie doesn’t work well in fleshing this out to a conclusion that feels satisfying. The movie focuses a lot on Laura with Charlie and then both of them interacting with Vincent. It goes off the rails though when Vincent fires everyone and auditions new actors. I’ll be honest, by that moment I was checked out. The movie meanders for a long stretch before it tries to pull you back in. I don’t think it does well there. The ending also feels empty as there is no punishment for the characters involved. I also don’t believe that characters by the end would do what they do. It feels like they had a good idea, but didn’t know necessarily what to do with it. That is a bit of a disappointment if I’m honest. I also had issues with them not finding the body of Winnie. I feel like that would be a place to check, where it ends up being found since that is where she was last scene. The death of the friend also felt a bit cheesy if I’m going to be honest as well.

What also might not help here is the acting. I think that Linklater plays her character well. She is awkward and it fits for this romance she develops for Charlie. Moving over to Cusick, I don’t think he was strong enough to play both characters. Being the writer/director here, it might have worked better to step back and allow someone else to take on this. I think he plays Charlie well, but he isn’t menacing as Vincent. Jonas Lerway does well as the younger version though. It was interesting to see Park-Lincoln here as I know her from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. She doesn’t have much more than a cameo, but I can feel her grief. The rest of the cast is fine in rounding this out for what was needed.

Then the last things to go into would be the cinematography, effects and soundtrack. For the former, I thought this was shot well. There were no issues there. We don’t get a lot in the way of the effects, but it also is more of cerebral movie about the effects of grief. I did like the opening credits we got. Those were cool. The soundtrack also didn’t stand out to me, but it doesn’t hurt the movie which is always a positive for me.

In conclusion here, this movie has some promise to it, but it is unrealized. I don’t like to trash movies if I don’t have to. I just think there are some things that the movie wanted to do, but just failed in executing it. If it fleshed out some of what was introduced, this could be good. I’d say that the acting is fine. Linklater, Park-Lincoln and Cusick as Charlie are the bright spots. Hendrix and both Lerways are fine. The movie is shot well and what little effects we get are fine. Going along with that, the soundtrack doesn’t help or hinder the movie in my opinion. For these reasons, I have to give this as being below average unfortunately.


My Rating: 4.5 out of 10


If you’d like to check this out for yourself, it is available on digital and cable platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, Comcast, Dish and Shaw