Review: DARK ROADS 79 (2017)
“The Devil’s Music” is a term we’ve all heard applied to rock, heavy metal and the blues. And we all know The Devil plays a mean country fiddle. The allegations go further back than that, though. Paganini’s skills with the violin were often attributed to demonic influence. Director Chase Smith (Hollywood Nightmare, Bring Me a Dream) and co-writer Richard Krevolin tap into this tradition for Dark Roads 79.
Five years ago, Dark Roads were the biggest Southern Rock band around, even bigger than Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now it’s 1979, they’re playing clubs and are one step away from being dropped by their label. And singer Bobby Gray (David Flannery) seems to be one step away from a breakdown.
After a disastrous gig that ends with Bobby passing out, their manager Grace (April Bogenschutz, Penance Lane) has had enough. She rents a cabin so they can get their shit together and come with up songs for a comeback album. The band goes, along with their roadie Ian (Chase Smith), bus driver Miles (Richard Krevolin) and an assortment of hangers-on.
Dark Roads 79 certainly has the right idea with its updating of Faust to the late seventies rock scene. The opening narration references Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. The spirit of Robert Johnson (Eddie George) makes an eerie appearance early in the film, stepping out of the audience to jam with the band. Thankfully, though, this isn’t The 27 Club.
What really elevates the first hour is the soundtrack. The original songs are actually quite good and help bridge over the slower spots. One of the awards Dark Roads 79 won on its festival run was for its music, and that was well deserved.
The first hour of Dark Roads 79 concentrates more on the drama, with hints of horror. It does a reasonable job of setting the last act up and making just about everyone a potential suspect. But mostly it’s infighting among the group and the occasional hookup interrupted by an occasional killing.
The final act is certainly more energetic as the various plot threads come together. It all plays out about as I expected, despite all the red herrings. But it does at least try to keep you guessing. Which is more than I can say for a lot of films lately.
Dark Roads 79 is an enjoyable Southern Rock take on Faust with a trace of slasher thrown in for good measure. It will be released on streaming platforms at the end of the month by Terror Films. You can find out more on the film’s Facebook page, or the Terror Films page.