“Expressway To Your Skull” Trips Out The Best Of Us
With so much saturation happening in the VOD scene today, it is crucial to give a film a unique trait to help make it stand out. It can be an eye catching cover art, a name actor, or an interesting title. That is the case with the wonderful, drug-fulled film Expressway To Your Skull. Written and directed by Michael Okum, the film stars Paul S. Tracey, Lindsay Atwood, and Mark Aaron.
Together they tell the following story:
Ed (Tracey)and Amy (Atwood), a thrill-seeking couple in their 20’s desperately searching for a way to fix their strapped existence. Amy has just turned 23 and lost her job when Ed, her small-time drug-dealer boyfriend, comes to her with a crazy, spur-of-the-moment scheme: After ripping off a higher level drug-dealer “friend” for some serious cash Ed persuades Amy to steal away from the city to the backwoods for a camping trip to cut loose and “expand their minds” while letting things cool down back in the city.
With a stash of drugs, backpacks and half-cocked enthusiasm Ed and Amy hit the road… but as they arrive in the woods their idyllic 3-day trip slowly starts to turn into a nightmare.
Soon the couple cross paths with a so-called “hunter” named Charlie (Aaron) who carries his rifle with him into their camp. At first they are only mildly suspicious of him being a threat. But as their plans for a drug-fueled getaway turn sour they find themselves in a fight for their lives against a psychotic survivalist with a diabolical, mind-expanding scheme of his own.
The name of the film comes from a Sonic Youth song with the same title, which absolutely captures the overall feeling of Expressway To Your Skull. Right off the bat we are shown the dangers and horrors of being alone in the woods. Mark Aaron gives a stellar performance as Charlie, the creepy old hermit. His nuanced performance send chills through the spine throughout the entire film. There are few actors who can fully embrace the rolls they are given, and Aaron takes his to the limit in the best way possible.
At the start, Expressway To Your Skull draws its audience in with it’s great camera work and honest dialogue. According to several writers, dialogue can be the hardest part of a script to write. There is never a time watching ETYS when someone says an out of place line or a statement that sounds scripted. Okum has struck a chord with the true nature of the young adults in a way which embraces their psychedelic journey with true vigor and an honest representation of drug usage.
The climax of Expressway To Your Skull is shot in a way that gives the viewer the same sensations the characters are going through. The psychedelic effects are enough to make the audience feel like they are in the woods with them, allowing for a full immersion into the story. Okum makes sure the audience can see and feel exactly what Ed and Amy feel on the screen, and in that he has succeeded immensely.
One interesting fact to note about production is the lack of permission to make the film. “100% of this film was shot without permits and the scenes involving campfire and guns were difficult to shoot even out in the woods. We even got kicked out of one choice location because we didn’t have a permit. In the end though we shot everything we needed to shoot and we’re all very proud of the end result.” Says Michael Okum. It is not easy making a film for a micro budget, but sometimes the system needs to be worked to the filmmakers advantage. The German horror film The Depraved did the same thing, shooting almost entirely in the catacombs under Berlin without even alerting the government, which led to some pretty interesting tales. This is not the best way to go about making a film, but when push comes to shove, doing what needs to be done is important. As long as the cast and crews safety are well cared for, it is copacetic to bend some rules to get the shots needed.
Overall Expressway To Your Skull is a great film, and definitely worth the inexpensive prices on VOD. You can find it currently on DVD and VOD everywhere.
Keep The Fear Alive!