“Haunting is all about setting a right tone,” says Charlie’s father while practicing his short monologue, which he often used to give before his customers entered the theme park. “Autumn Road, “written and directed by Riley Cusick, establishes an eerie tone from its inception.
Without wasting a moment, the film instills a sense of somberness while introducing the characters. As the narrative moves ahead, the dynamics shared by the different characters also unravel. The characters in this world are not only complex but also capricious in their nature. It often seems like they function on an impulse. It intrigues the audience and makes them invested in such a manner that they want to know more about them. So let’s tread on this Autumn Road and see where it takes us!
‘Autumn Road’ Plot Summary
It was Halloween and probably the best business time for a theme horror park. Charlie and Vincent’s father used to run the place. However, they were twins but were poles apart when it came to their core characteristics. Vincent was more dubious and cynical in nature, while Charlie was the obedient one. He agreed to whatever was told to him without questioning or reasoning it. Not that he was bullied by his brother, but there was a significant amount of coercion that he subconsciously felt. There was no physical threat or actual imminence to him, but it was more of psychological stimuli that was quite subliminal in nature.
Winnie, a young girl from the neighborhood, had come to help her friends. She asks for Charlie as she couldn’t see him anywhere. Charlie was found sitting in an abandoned car by his father. He tells him that Vincent had told him to stay away from Winnie as he liked her. But later in the night, Charlie and Winnie share an intimate moment in the same car and express their fondness for each other. All of a sudden, Winnie starts coughing, and Charlie gets paranoid. He goes to his brother and asks him for help. Vincent, with a cold smirk on his face, tells Charlie, “I’ll take care of it, just don’t tell anyone.”
That was the last time Winnie was ever seen. She vanished without telling anyone. Nobody knew what happened to her, whether she was dead or alive.
The Psychology of Vincent
Years passed, and the boys took over the Horror House after their father passed away. There was a conflict between the two over the Horror House. Vincent felt that they were not operating the horror house to its full potential. He had a totally unique vision for it. He believed that a horror house was not truly capable of scaring anyone unless and until an actual tragedy had happened there.
Vincent often talks about Amiteville and such places where some horrific events had occurred in reality which had led the place to have a certain reputation. He aspires to achieve that status when it comes to his horror house too. Charlie tries to reason with him that what he was talking about was totally irrational. He reminded Vincent that the motive behind having a theme horror house was firstly to earn money and secondly to serve as a source of entertainment for the town’s people. But Vincent was convinced that he needed to level up proceedings and live up to his own expectations of a “good scare.”
The Sense of Estrangement
Laura was an aspiring actress. She was Winnie’s sister but was never very close to Charlie and Vincent. For the longest time she was living away from her hometown but when her roommate meets with a terrible road accident, she feels the urge to visit her roots and talk to her mother. After her roommate meets with a terrible road accident in front of her, she decides to visit her mom. She meets Charlie and Vincent. Laura hangs out with Charlie. They talk about Winnie and her mysterious disappearance. Vincent gets insecure and weirdly possessive when he sees both of them bonding and gelling along together.
He camouflages his real intentions and feelings and blames Laura for harassing his brother. Vincent knew that Laura and Charlie were getting close. He didn’t like another person coming in between him and his brother. Vincent was possessive of him. He tries to scare her off. Vincent had a subdued feeling deep down that he would be estranged if any other individual came between him and his brother. Even though he had a lot of disagreements with his brother, the thought of leaving him made him uncomfortable and anxious.
But things got worse, and this time Charlie was not going to let him have his way.
‘Autumn Road’ Ending Revealed
Vincent reveals his violent self and assaults Laura in a frenzied manner. He puts her in a coffin which had the skeleton of Winnie. Years back, when Vincent had told Charlie that he would handle the situation, he had gone and killed Winnie. Whether he had this bloodlust from before or it developed after he saw her getting close to his brother is debatable.
But this time, Charlie comes to the scene just in time and saves Laura. Vincent leaves his brother, never to return.
Charlie and Laura start leading a normal and happy life. But Charlie always felt the presence of his brother even when he had gone. He always felt that he was being watched by Vincent. As the film rightly puts it, sometimes, when you look outside your window, you feel like somebody’s watching you back. Charlie often used to feel that and get cold shivers just from its thought. In the last scene, he sits in the same abandoned car where he had his first kiss with Winnie. It was the same car where Winnie was murdered and put inside a coffin. Charlie looks back, his pupils widen, and the screen turns to black.
Autumn Road depends heavily on its atmospherics and leaves the viewers with an uncanny feeling, something similar to when you are walking in a dark alley and shiver by the mere thought of being watched by somebody.
Autumn Road is a 2021 Drama Horror film written and directed by Riley Cusick.