BRIGHT HILL ROAD – directed by Robert Cuffley, written by Susie Moloney – SPOILERS
It’s quickly established that Marci (Siobhan Williams) is an alcoholic. She drives drunk, works drunk (she is in charge of HR for an unspecified company), and does everything else that way. Shortly after the story begins, some dude she fired (probably unjustifiably) turns up at the office with a handgun and starts shooting people. Marci has good survival instincts, so he hides quietly in a bathroom stall while the rest of the staff is decimated. She is given some time off work to sort herself out.
Marci decides to drive to California to see her sister. It rains and she is drunk and very confused and wakes up in the parking lot of a desolate-looking hotel. She decides to stay there for a bit, and the proprietor, Mrs. Inman (Agam Darshi), settles her into Room 2. It is late fall, and there are no other guests. It feels like a Twilight Zone sort of situation as Marci begins to hear odd groans and voices from elsewhere in the building. She decides to quit drinking but that makes it worse, and Mrs. Inman continually offers unwanted advice. The first real clue we get as to the actual nature of things is when she goes to the basement to explore and finds a rack of wine. A box of bottle caps is in front of it and she empties that onto the floor so she can use it to carry some of the wine to her room. (Judging from the scattered bottle caps, Molson Canadian is clearly popular at this establishment and that’s the only thing that places this story in Canada.) But the real clue to what’s going on is that none of the wine bottles has any dust on it.
Though she wants to continue her trip to California, Marci has difficulty leaving the hotel. (In one of her attempts a local motorist nearly runs her down.) Then Owen (Michael Eklund) shows up. Owen is spooky, and his problems seem similar (superficially at least) to Marci’s. They go outside together but the town seems as deserted as the hotel except for another local motorist who tries to run them down. Marci has been trying to get through to her sister by phone without success, and Owen remarks on the lack of cell towers in the area. Even so, Marci is later able to leave voicemail for her sister.
The scene where Marci is dancing by herself in the hotel needed music in the background, so Williams wrote a song for it. “When I got back home to Vancouver,” she told the Calgary Herald, “I picked up my guitar and wrote ‘Whispers in the Hall’. I wanted to make it sound like it wasn’t my voice. I didn’t want someone to be watching that scene and say ‘Oh, that’s weird. She’s singing.’ So I put my voice in a deeper register.”
Williams turns in an exceptional performance and really is most of the movie. Eklund and Darshi make up almost the entirety of the supporting cast. (This is the fourth film Cuffley has made with Michael Eklund in it, including the award-winning Chokeslam.) One cannot continue to describe the plot without getting too spoilery, but the story does bring to mind the setting for a TV show that was also filmed in the Calgary area, and in which Williams appeared in one episode as a friend of the Sheriff’s daughter.
Screenwriter Susie Moloney told Matthew Orozco of Macabre Daily: “One of my very favorite moments in the whole film comes right near the beginning, when Siobhan is in her office. And she takes it she sort of looks around before she has her little shot. And she looks around and the expression on her face is absolutely priceless. Just like ‘fuck it’. She just does.”