How was hitchhiking ever a thing? Doesn't it seem ill-conceived to pick up or be picked up by a complete stranger in the middle of nowhere? Have horror movies tainted my mindset so much that it baffles me that anyone would ever try it? When has it ever worked out, in any movie? It's an instant death sentence.
But that doesn't stop our two main characters in Road Games, Jack and Veronique, from hitchhiking across France. Poor Jack doesn't have a choice, as his story of betrayal and abandonment has left him no choice. Veronique finds herself in a similar boat, and they begin a semi-romantic journey together to get to England. Of course, they have to hitchhike along the way, and that leads not to the easy path to England, but bloodshed.
There were times when the film felt like a [very] mild version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's just a bunch of French people who live off the beaten path that happen to have malicious tendencies. Of course, these people manage to still be kind. Like, if Canada tried to make a horror movie. They'd spend more time apologizing than stabbing.
The twist isn't much of one. It's not that it's entirely obvious, but the plot is constantly hinting with its persistently vague dialogue that nothing is as it appears to be. The unrelenting subtlety manages to hops itself right out of nuance and into transparency, to the point that you've read everything in the Scooby Doo script but the last page that removes the monster's mask. The film loosens the pickle jar so much that you don't feel like anything was accomplished when you pop it off and peer inside. Am I delivering enough creative metaphors, here?
The acting is decent for the most part. There were bouts where it seemed like the director took a first take thinking it was unsettling, but it was just awkward. The older woman of the tale was particularly gauche in her delivery that it hurt most scenes she was in. Films like this, that are little more than a slow-burning mystery thriller, need a huge payoff to be worth it. And in this day and age, it's difficult to not step into someone else's shoes accidentally while trying to make an original twist. And if your plot is wholly dependent on a weak twist, it can make an otherwise healthy production seem like it's malnourished.