Claire is on her way home after a career in California as a photographer. She’s still relatively young, but she feels she never really accomplished her goals. Claire thinks she didn’t reach the excellence she strove for and must give up on her dreams and settle for something less. Driving across the desert, Claire stops for gas, and the weird young attendant’s questions are intrusive: “Where are you from? Are you alone?” She is creeped out and leaves after gassing up. She doesn’t get too far before there is an accident with a blowout. She fixes the flat, but her car is elevated on a small, bolder, and the tire doesn’t reach the ground. She will need a tow; she walks back to the gas station to use a landline and calls for a truck, but it never comes.

As the day progresses, Claire’s situation becomes increasingly dire. She purchases some snacks at the station, only to discover that her credit card has been canceled. It becomes clear that the attendant had illicitly used her card, leaving her stranded with no means of payment. Her attempts to walk to the next town are futile, as she always finds herself back at her car or the station. The feeling of being followed intensifies, and she soon realizes that her fears are not unfounded.

This film is an excellent thriller with great performances, especially by Kristine Froseth (Claire) and Francis Fisher. We feel Claire’s increasing panic and terror. She’s stuck in a nightmare-like trap and can’t wake up. Although this is a somewhat familiar plot, how it is resolved is unique. I highly recommend this exciting film. While at SXSW, I saw the lead actress in person; she was almost unrecognizable from the character I had seen on the screen, and her transformation into the role had been complete. Desert Road is a compelling and satisfying story.

Directed by Shannon Triplett

Staring Kristine Froseth, Francis Fisher, Beau Bridges, Max Mattern, Edwin Garcia II

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