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Review: Steve Stanulis & Richard Grieco’s “Clinton Road”

I was born, raised and live in New Jersey, and I even had the chance to visit the fabled Clinton Road about eight years ago. When I saw that a group of film-makers were making a movie based on the infamous ten mile stretch of road in The Garden State, I immediately saw a bunch of red flags based on actuality alone and the fact that a movie also “inspired by real events” was released in 2015 to disastrous results. Same with locations like The Amityville Horror House (which I’ve visited, too) and other real-life haunted properties, people flock to Clinton Road at night and there’s a palpable atmosphere that you can’t escape. The road becomes its own little world of Hell, one that beckons all sorts of evil to its boundaries. To my surprise, this was captured perfectly in Steve Stanulis and Richard Grieco’s Clinton Road. A few key road-stops and tall tales are missing from the movie, but otherwise the team at Chaos Productions did a wonderful job creating a horror film that does the legend justice. Based on the screenplay by Derek Ross Mackay, Clinton Road finds a widowed firefighter who seeks closure after his wife goes missing on one of the most haunted roads in the country. Little does he know, trying to unlock the mystery of her disappearance will bring him face to face with true evil and bloodshed that will paint the forest red. Buckle your seat-belts and drive into danger with Clinton Road, produced by Noel Ashman, Steve Stanulis and Richard Grieco (“21 Jump Street”).

Midnight Releasing struck gold by acquiring Clinton Road for a ten city theatrical run and video on demand debut scheduled for June 14th 2019. Google and strong word of mouth from New Jersey residents will no doubt propel this movie to the top of every chart that categories horror. It’s the combination of talent and surprise production value that’s going to make audiences say “wow.” Seriously, I’m surprised Clinton Road didn’t nab a bigger release because, to the credit of its cast and crew, it’s a twisted, never-ending onslaught of terror. There are so many predators lurking on the road that the action doesn’t stop from the moment the widower and his group step foot on the road to the closing death sequence outside a huge house. Clinton Road was edited by B. Luciano Barsgulia, directed by Steve Stanulis and Richard Grieco, and finds cinematography by John Hudak Jr. and Connie Yen. Shot under Chaos Productions in association with Growing Tree Productions and Noel Ashman Entertainment, Clinton Road stars Ace Young (Broadway and “American Idol”), Erin O’Brien, Cody Christopher Calafiore, Katie Morrison, Lauren LaVera, James DeBello and Sarah Pribis while also boasting appearances from Vincent Pastore (“The Sopranos”), Eric Roberts (every movie ever) and Ice T (“Law and Order: SVU”). I voted for Ace Young during his stint on American Idol in 2006, so it’s crazy to see him in a horror film based on one of the scariest places in my home state. Young definitely stands out for his performance here along with James DeBello and Erin O’Brien. I feel that the entire cast had real chemistry on screen, and their talent was further highlighted by an expert crew. See, horror films can do both!

Monsters, ghosts, serial killers and cults – all things you’ll find on and in Clinton Road. As I mentioned above, some of the real urban legends of the road are missing from the movie, but that was inevitable because there is literally so many stories and content to sift through. Other enchanted spirits and events are subjects of originality, too. I can let this slide. Perhaps my only complaint lies in the area of atmosphere. I think horror fans are going to be divided on if Clinton Road is filled with fright or filled with fun. Horror is so mainstream now that it’s difficult to actually scare your audience. As writers, directors, producers, and actors, the most you can hope for is to entertain your audience and give them something to get enthralled in for an hour and a half. Clinton Road definitely does that. It’s entertaining as fuck and speaks to a simpler time in horror history, but the atmosphere is just so… fun. That could be me, though, because I sincerely enjoyed seeing the infamous road adapted to screen in such a successful way. This juxtaposition isn’t a bad position to be in. No matter where you fall in the debate, I don’t think you’re going to walk away from this movie saying “that was terrible.” Clinton Road is the perfect feature film for people looking for a night of mystery, adventure, and every subgenre of horror crammed into one epic walk into madness. It’s well produced and brought to life by incredible talent. I think it’s safe to say that I loved this movie and would certainly recommend it to horror fans looking for the lighter side of the darkness and “inspired by true events” can’t get any realer than this. Viva La Weird NJ!

Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)