Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Nadine Crocker and Lionsgate comes a thriller based on the book by Michael Farris Smith of people on DESPERATION ROAD.

Recently out of an 11-year prison stint, Russell Gaines (Garrett Hedlund) is met in town by a very angry Larry (Ryan Hurst) who makes it clear that he is out for revenge for the death of his brother. At home, Russell’s father Mitchell (Mel Gibson) is happy to see his son and realizes that problems are not far behind. Also in trouble is Maben (Willa Fitzgerald), a young mother trying to find a life with daughter Annalee (Pyper Braun). After a horrific incident, Maben will do anything to get away and comes across Russell. Offering to help them, they find refuge at Mitchell’s place.

Investigating is officer and childhood friend Sheriff Boyd (Woody McClain) who believes there is some connection but cannot seem to find it. Trying to believe that Russell had nothing to do with it becomes difficult when he constantly disappears or only tells half-truths. Following up leads, Boyd discovers that someone named Maben may be involved and suspects that Russell knows more than he’s saying. One thing becomes clear, it is serendipitous that Maben found Russell in the first place as he comes clean with the unspoken connection between the two of them from years before.

Larry is on a rampage and ex-wife Dana (Kate Foster) sees that his rage is going to get people hurt as a police chase gives way. Russell decides to come clean about everything to Boyd so that the chips will fall where they need to for some to be safe and some to pay. That’s when the story has a chance to change and the potential for life to begin again.

Hedlund as Russell gives the performance of a man that has spent a long time beating himself up emotionally so that when someone is beating him physically, it doesn’t seem to hurt. A mistake made years before, this character is reliving it on the daily and believes that he still has so much to pay for. Hedlund gives us the down-home country boy who completely understands how everything in his life went wrong and lives for ways to make it right. That being said, even he knows that some things can never be made right, they can only change in forgiveness and perspective. That’s what Hedlund’s Russell shows from the first frame to the last.

Fitzgerald as Maben is a woman also trying to escape something bad but with each step she takes, it only leads her to more bad. Her daughter is everything and there is nothing she won’t do to protect her and that’s when someone decides to use a mother’s love in heinous ways. Maben doesn’t trust, nor does she have any reason to but when her back is up against the wall, she must trust strangers. Fitzgerald is quietly pensive and always ready to run in her character of Maben, well done! Young Braun as Annalee is seeing the worst that adults do to one another but, at the same time, would change nothing to be with her mother.

Hurst as Larry is a man who has also been hurt and takes every opportunity to lash out. The arrival of Russell just sends the steaming pot overflowing with anger and a vengeful mind. Let me say this, having watched Hurst as Oppy in the series Sons of Anarchy (a personal favorite that I have watched repeatedly) and as Beta on AMC”s The Walking Dead, I don’t know where he gets the rage from but, man, he scares me – which is the point!  McClain as Sheriff Boyd is happy to finally see his friend out of prison, but the town ugliness has him questioning his friend. When he doesn’t like the answers or doesn’t believe them, he searches harder because the questions keep coming.

Shout out to Mel Gibson as dad Mitchell who doesn’t question much about what is happening with his son and makes it clear that ‘I got your back’ means something in their family. Gibson is protective and doesn’t seem to worry about much in the way of people bothering him – but bother his family, well, that’s a whole other weapon carrying situation.

Other cast include Ella Thomas as Sarah Magee, Michael Aaron Milligan as Walt, Katey Bodenhamer as Lacey, Frank Blake as Officer Jay, Bonita Elery as Brenda, Kyle Rankin as Jason and Paulina Galvez as Consuela.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000-motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at

DESPERATION ROAD is the story of small-town living, corruption, family, secrets, anger and redemption all tied up into a neat little grungy package. Book author Farris wrote the screenplay himself which is why the story seems to stay organically close to the page. Farris also has other works in the pipeline with THE FIGHTER and BLACKWOOD. Director Crocker previously worked on the film CONTINUE bringing her filmography up to two with DESPERATION ROAD.

It is not a fast-paced film but instead takes its time in showing the progression of past mistakes and the pain as it comes toward the inevitability in the future. The possibility of redemption is always there but it comes at a cost and those who are willing to pay it. The cast each take their time to draw out their back stories and how it all comes to affect their futures

In the end – redemption can be had but at a cost!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.