Annie-Sage Whitehurst, James Duke Walker, Jess Prichard
Ali Matlock, Jubei Powers
In Ali Matlock's 20-minute thriller Roadside Assistance, Amy (Annie-Sage Whitehurst) and Justin (James Duke Walker) are a couple returning from a vacation where they've taken baby steps toward mending their broken relationship. However, on the way home their lives are thrown into disarray when they encounter car troubles while traveling down that kind of lonesome, haunted highway where you just kind of know that trouble is right around the corner.
Winner of several indie fest awards already including prizes at Alternative Film Festival (Best Thriller), Calcutta International Film Festival (Outstanding Achievement Award), New York Film Awards (Best Thriller), Oniros Film Awards (Best Thriller, Best Acting Debut - Walker), Festigious International Film Festival (Best Thriller), Top Indie Film Awards (Best Actor - Walker) and others, Roadside Assistance starts off creepy and never lets up throughout its 20-minute running time with ever so gentle twists and curves not far removed from that dark two-lane highway on which Amy and Justin find themselves.
From the opening moments, there's a palpable tension between Amy and Justin with a believable chemistry that seems frayed and wary as uneasy conversation is exchanged back and forth. Annie-Sage Whitehurst is a master of facial expressions, her eyes expressing the film's thrills even when the screen is silent. Newcomer James Duke Walker has deservedly picked up a couple of awards for his work here as Justin, a guy who seemingly just wants to reconnect and make any changes necessary to save his relationship with Amy. Jess Prichard hits all the right notes in a brief yet vital role that enhances that feeling of "Exactly what's going on here?"
Matlock's direction is confident and assured, the film's heightened drama magnified by the original score by Ecto Des and the lensing of Sean Campbell and Chris Skiles. Kudos must also be given to Tai Collins for a sound design that vastly exceeds that of most low-budget indies.
Roadside Assistance continues on its indie festival run and is definitely a film to catch if you get a chance to see it at a fest near you. For more information on the film, check out its official website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic