The Road opened in cities across the country today as part of its limited theatrical release and is now available on a variety of on-demand services. During a recent talk with director Yam Laranas, I learned about the evolution of this film from a single story idea, scaring child actors, and his next project:
When did you first start working on The Road and what was your inspiration for the story?
Yam Laranas: I started in 2005 and was dabbling with the idea of creating a claustrophobic film that wasn't happening in a haunted house. So I thought about how scary it is to be lost on a dark road, not knowing where to go. I remember being lost on a dark road during a road trip and you feel trapped.
What changed since your original idea from 2005?
Yam Laranas: When I started writing, I only wrote about the teens and a haunting that happened on the road. I completed the story and it was crap. I pitched it to some friends in 2006 and it was so incomplete. I know why they passed.
I went back to the drawing table to figure out what happens after the teens on the road. I forgot about the story for a little bit and picked up an article about a crime in the Philippines, where 2 sisters were abducted. It was crazy and shook me. How could that randomly happen? I started writing the story of the sisters and nothing happened with that story by itself. Then I decided to connect it to the story of the road.
How did you come up with the third act?
Yam Laranas: When I was looking for a third act for the film, I couldn't think of anything again. Many years passed, and I thought about telling the story in reverse. I wanted to start with the road, go with the sisters, and then go further back in time. It fascinated me because I wanted the first part to be your traditional ghost story. It would be a smokescreen, so you didn't know what would happen in the second act. There would be questions in part 1 that would be answered in part 2 and questions in part 2 that would be answered in the third act.
Some people say that they love the first act more than the others, and others say that it is a little cliché. I think I succeeded in tricking the audience into thinking that this is just like a horror film that you've seen before.
Can you tell me about the casting process? Was it challenging with the many young actors who appear in the film?
Yam Laranas: I thought the challenge would be the teens in the beginning, because it's hard to make a scream or scared face different. I decided to get actors who had not been in a horror film before. I wanted to take them to a dark place away from the city so that they were really reacting to the location. I didn't show them the ghost, so the screaming in the car was authentic. I locked the door and told her to look away until we rolled the camera. She's just 14, so she was screaming at the top of her lungs. It was a very good motivation to the other teens, because they always worried that I'd try to hide something from them to scare the hell out of them.
With The Road being released this month, what's your next project? Will you be returning to horror once again?
Yam Laranas: I'm toying with an idea that is horror, but not necessarily a ghost story. I'm still working on the story, but it will be about sisters again. It's something totally different from The Road. I'll probably finish writing later this year and will start pre-production by the end of the year. I'm excited because I've been trying to write it for the longest time and GMA Films is working with me on it again.
"THE ROAD tells the story of a twelve-year-old cold case that is reopened when three teenagers vanish while traversing an infamous and abandoned road. As investigators try to find leads to the whereabouts of the missing teens, they also unearth the road’s gruesome past that spans two decades – a history of abduction, crimes and murders."
Directed by Yam Laranas, The Road stars Carmina Villaroel, Rhian Ramos, TJ Trinidad, Barbie Forteza, Lexi Fernandez, Derrick Monasterio, Alden Richards, Louise de los Reyes, and Renz Valerio.
Here is a list of cities screening the film: Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C.