'Cold Road' Loses Thrills to Exposition

Directed by Kelvin Redvers

Starring Roseanne Supernault, Taylor Kinequon, Samuel Hoeksema, Karibou

Photo courtesy of levelFILM

BY Courtney SmallPublished Mar 6, 2024


Estranged from the Indigenous community she grew up in, Tracy (Roseanne Supernault) finally returns home to Stony Narrows, SK, to see her ailing mother. Accompanied by her dog, Pretzel, Tracy's journey on the isolated highway in the Canadian North becomes the source of unexpected terror in Kelvin Redvers's thriller Cold Road.

From the onset, the young woman faces many challenges on the 12-hour drive — gas stations are few and far between, cell phone reception is spotty and there are large stretches of icy roads to navigate. However, the elements aren't the most dangerous obstacle of the trip.

Unbeknownst to Tracy, a sadistic trucker has been terrorizing unsuspecting Indigenous women along the same road; like a hunter stalking prey for sport, the cabin of his vehicle is adorned with trophies collected from each kill. Planting half-full bottles of alcohol at each crime scene, the mysterious trucker has managed to convince the police that the increase in accidents are drunk driving related. The local Indigenous community isn't so easily fooled, though. They know all too well that something more sinister is afoot, even if authorities refuse to listen. 

Sprinkling in plenty of social commentary throughout his story, Redvers makes Tracy's interactions with white Canadians — from the waitress who refuses to acknowledge Tracy's cry for help, to a local police officer (Samuel Hoeksema) who immediately views her as a threat — just as life threatening as being chased by a maniac on the road. Similar to the faceless killer in Steven Spielberg's Duel, the killer's anonymity only further reinforces the sense of danger lurking around every corner for Tracy and all Indigenous women.

While Cold Road does an effective job of conveying the fear and isolation Tracy endures, especially when the truck is weaving back and forth on the road like a python about to strike, Redvers's script often struggles with the limiting nature of the film's setting. Since much of the film consists of Tracy and Pretzel in the car, the film often explains more than it shows, creating copious amounts of exposition that's more of a curse than a gift.    

The exposition begins as helpful, establishing the key stops on her journey and Tracy's circumstances before getting behind the wheel. Through the conversations with her sister, Eve (Taylor Kinequon), the viewer learns that Tracy's a pushover and unhappy in her marriage.  However, as the tension cranks up, Tracy's need to vocalize every thought and telegraph every planned action becomes grating.

What's particularly perplexing is the way Tracy makes decisions that seem to go against basic logic. Her actions, such as inadvertently discarding a useful weapon for example, only serves to artificially push the plot forward and nothing more. It's these moments that emphasize that there's simply not enough road for Redvers's plot to drive down.

While the script issues stall the film in more ways than one, Supernault does her best to jump start the story forward. An undeniable talent, the actress manages to convey the character's various layers even when alone in the car with only a dog as a scene partner for long stretches of the film. Supernault's performance maintains the viewer's interest in Tracy's journey, even in the film's weaker moments.

Cold Road may not be the taught trucker thriller on par with the likes of Duel, but through Supernault's lively turn as Tracy, the potential framework for what Redvers's film could have been had the screenplay been tighter is clear. While there's enough action beats to create some thrilling moments, ultimately the film's road goes cold.


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