Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The Road Virus Travels North (TV)

Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The Road Virus Travels North (TV)
It's 'Day Gallery' when a haunted, ever-changing painting plagues the sanity of a horror author.
Updated: 06-29-2006

The Road Virus Heads North starts off promisingly: Richard Kinnell (Tom Berenger) is a lauded, famous horror writer pushing his way through an enthusiastic crowd of fans at his latest book-signing event. There are some fun, kooky characters, and it's not too hard to picture the author of the short story upon which this episode is based, Steven King, wearing those same shoes. It's an interesting glimpse into the flipside of fandom.


But the celebration of the author's latest great tome is short-lived when, after the event, Kinnell goes to the doctor and receives some rather grim news about the state of his health. Undaunted, he gets into his car and prepares for the long drive home back East. Along the way, the avid antiquer decides to stop at a garage sale, where he spies a compelling original painting by a local artist. The portrait shows a dark, creepy figure driving down a lonely road, his hands clutching the wheel with a death-grip, and his grimacing face set as if in stone. The woman having the garage sale explains to Kinnell that the artist was a perpetually depressed teenager who burned all of his artwork — except for this painting — then committed suicide.


The story and the painting appeal to the horror author's darker sensibilities so he buys it, sticks it in the backseat of his car, and keeps heading north. As he drives, he starts to get strange feelings and vague premonitions. He is more eager than ever to get to the sanctuary of home.


Along the way, he stops to visit with his aunt (Marsha Mason), and to pick his dog up from his ex-wife's (Susie Porter) house. The painting starts to change… the road signs change… as if the spectral driver is following Kinnell. After a particularly bad scare, Kinnell decides to get rid of the sinful sketch by throwing it in the nearest river. But it's not that easily cast off.


Berenger is excellent in The Road Virus Travels North (and Mason and Porter are too, in their very small roles), but there are not enough twists and turns in this road… It's easy enough to figure out where it's going as the story moves along in a too-staid mode of cruise control. Still, it is worth a look for the performances and to watch the painting chance. And, oh yeah, there is a gruesomely severed head — gotta see that!


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson



Be sure and read our exclusive interview with Tom Berenger.

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