Bright Hill Road

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Bright HIll Road  (2020, dir: Robert Cuffley; script: Susan Maloney; cast: Siobhan Williams, Michael Eklund, Agam Darshi, Sally Cacic)





Marcy (Siobhan Williams) is a mess. She's an alcoholic with a tragic past. Lots of misfortunes and reasons for guilt. Then one day a Disgruntled Former Employee (tm) returns to Marcy's workplace and shoots up the place.

More guilt for Marcy. She's head of Human Resources and didn't take the former employee's threats seriously. She was probably too drunk to care.

Marcy is given a leave of absence, so she heads for California. Driving drunk, she barely avoids a collision. But she manages to arrive at the Bright Hill Road Boarding House for little R&R, before continuing her journey.

It's a suitably creepy place, situated in a tiny town on the flat, barren plains of Alberta. (Bright Hill Road was shot in Canada.) Mrs. Inman (Agam Darshi) runs the boarding house. She's a cool, matronly, proper sort of widow woman. Despite all the weird things Marcy reports seeing in the house, Mrs. Inman is forever unperturbed.

Much of the film is the weird stuff that Marcy sees. Burned bodies, screaming women, accidents. A sudden "fright" and then it's gone. Marcy can't tell what's real, what isn't. One moment she's left the hotel and is driving away, then she awakes back at the hotel. One moment she's fine, then she looks in the mirror and sees blood dripping from her head. Or she turns around and suddenly her room is filled with booze bottles. I mean, hundreds of booze bottles. Covering the bed, the floor, every chair, desk, and table.

This is one of those films where you're not sure if the character is experiencing actual hauntings, or if she's going insane. Or is it all a nightmare? About a third into the film, I wondered if Marcy was in Purgatory or Hell. That was even before Mrs Inman told Marcy (early in the film) that this is a place people come to do penance for their sins.

If you're seen Carnival of Souls or Jacob's Ladder, you will soon figure out Marcy's predicament.




Bright Hill Road is an attractive film. It doesn't have the cheap video look of many low-budget films. Its production values are slick. The boarding house is moodily lit, some of the compositions are affecting, and the cinematography is creative. Marcy occasionally blurs in and out to convey her sense of drunkenness. Talented make-up effects and fine acting all around.

Longtime horror fans might not find Bright Hill Road all that scary. It's nothing we haven't seen many times before. One problem with this sort of film is that there's no real story. Marcy just walks about, seeing and hearing scary but disjointed things. A sudden shock, then everything's back to normal. We're just waiting for the punchline. Is she in Hell? In a coma? Will she get a second chance at life? After all the shocks and frights, how will things turn out for her?



Part of Bright Hill Road's creepiness derives from its small cast. The boarding house is vast but vacant, aside from one other guest, a slimy dude named Owen (Michael Eklund). A few other cast members put in a brief appearance during the office shootout, but the bulk of the film is just Marcy, Mrs. Inman, and Owen.

Although it treads familiar ground, Bright Hill Road is a cozy, creepy film, enjoyable if you're in the mood for this sort of subgenre.


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