A family of four gets caught up in trouble as they travel from California to Texas. “End of the Road” is a thriller that fails to build suspense. The social commentary does not stand tall; what could have been a chilling experience is reduced to a parody of sorts. The over-saturated visual aesthetic of the film does not work well with the genre. The overall performance of the cast was commendable, and it is the only aspect of the film that works. The road trip could have been impactful had it been dealt with the right way.
‘End Of The Road’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
After losing her husband to cancer, Brenda Freeman decides to relocate her family from California to Texas. She had to sell the house they owned to clear the debt incurred to pay for her husband’s treatment. She was moving into her mother’s house in Houston, and that was a decision her children did not approve of. Leaving their home and the memories attached to it was not easy for Cam and Kelly. Kelly had to bid farewell to her lover, and Cam struggled to leave his room and even proposed to sleep on his dad’s bed to stay back. Joining the Freemans on the road trip was Brenda’s brother, Reggie. The self-proclaimed problem solver is pretty much a troublemaker. He is determined to make his family proud, and for that, he, at times, makes questionable decisions.
Three hours into the road trip, Brinda was annoyed by how her family was busy on their phones. She made it a point to make her children leave their phones aside and share what was on their minds. Even though the children were reluctant at first, they gradually opened up, and the road trip was not as dull as it was before. At a gas station, Brenda felt uninvited and hurried Kelly back to the car. Two white hoodlums provoked Kelly; she gave them the middle finger and left. But they could not get over the insult. They started following the family. Brenda struggled to stay in control as the car continued to chase them. They left after a few minutes, but soon the family realized they had accelerated to block their path. It was no longer minor trouble. Reggie wanted to face them, but Brenda stopped him. She knew the situation would escalate if it was not handled sensitively. She decides to talk and solve the problem. The bigots asked her to apologize for endangering white lives, and even though she was disgusted and rattled by the entire situation, she repeated it to protect her family. They had guns, and she knew she could lose her entire family within seconds. They laughed, stating they were only joking with them, and left. From the moment they had to take the detour, their lives were strangely affected. They realized that the road would not be easy, and they could face even more prejudice, but they had to stick together to fight the danger.
Meanwhile, Harvey Ruck and Pepe Ochoa took delivery of a party for Mr. Cross. But Ruck was not loyal to his job; he shot his partner dead and took the money from the gangster and ran away. In some strange way, the Freemans came across the money, and Brenda had to fight for the lives of her family to protect them from a mad couple.
How Did Brenda Manage To Get Hold Of The Money?
Just as the family was recovering from the trauma that they had to live through, they heard a gunshot in the next room in the motel they were staying at for the night. Brenda was an ER nurse. She rushed to the scene the moment she realized that the man who pulled the trigger had left. But even after trying her best, she could not help the victim. The man who was shot was Harvey Ruck. While supplying towels to Brenda, Reggie noticed the bag that was kept hidden in the cupboard. The next morning, when the family took off after giving their statements to the police, Reggie revealed that he had stolen the bag of cash. In the meantime, Brenda received two calls. One was from the Arizona State Troopers asking her to return to the motel to discuss the case, and the other was from a stranger who knew her name and wanted her to return their bag. Brenda now realized what the stranger was asking for. Even though Reggie had stolen the money to help Brenda provide for her family, he did not realize the trouble he was getting them all into. Brenda decided to leave the money at the motel near the restaurant where they were having lunch. But the motel staff noticed her going into the room with a bag. She informed the stranger that she had kept the bag in the hotel and asked them to collect it from the location, but they were not ready to do so. They repeated that Brenda had to abide by their instructions and rules, not the other way around. Brenda did not pay heed to the call. She left with her family and stopped at a Western-themed town. But soon, she received another call from the stranger threatening to destroy her family if she failed to deliver the money. She heard Cam cry over the call and realized that the threat was real. Cam had gone to the washroom alone and was kidnapped then. They were being followed by Mr. Cross. Brenda asked Reggie to take care of her daughter as she decided to go back to the motel and collect the bag.
Meanwhile, Captain Hammers, who was heading the investigation, emphasized the importance of finding the family since they would be Mr. Cross’s next target. His team had been trying to hunt Cross for years, but he always managed to escape. But this time, he intended to find the man. When he was alerted about Brenda’s speeding car, he asked the police to not follow her since Mr. Cross could murder her to break the chain. He decided to understand the situation from a distance and questioned Reggie and Kelly to gather further information. Initially, the uncle and niece refused to share the truth with the Captain. But when he explained how Brenda’s life might be in danger, they disclosed the entire truth. For their safety, Captain Hammers asked them to accompany him to his ranch and spend the night there.
Brenda entered the motel room, but the bag was not in the cupboard. She looked outside and spotted the motel worker running away with the bag in her car. Brenda chased her to the point that her car stumbled. She forced the girl to return her bag, but she did not realize where the girl had brought her. She was surrounded by white extremists living in trailers. The girl attacked Brenda at the back of her head, and they tied her down. She gained consciousness in the evening and saw the group having a rowdy party. She tried to break free, but they found her and attacked her. Nonetheless, Brenda managed to tackle them all and threatened them with a shotgun, stating that the bag belonged to Mr. Cross. The group trembled at the sound of his name. They returned her the money, and she was on her way to the location sent by Mr. Cross.
‘End Of The Road’ Ending Explained: Who Was Mr. Cross? How Did The Family Escape The Threat?
After Kelly and Reggie reached Captain Hammers’s ranch, he introduced them to his wife. The warm country folks soon turned into a malicious couple when he opened the back of his car to reveal that he was the one who kidnapped Cam. They were all locked in the basement and would only be released once Brenda came to their house with the money. They knew that they would never be allowed to walk free after what they had witnessed. It was all a trap. Once Brenda would reach the house, the couple would kill the entire family. They tried to escape through a small outlet, but their dog found out and bit Kelly’s hand. Captain Hammers, aka Mr. Cross, entered the basement after hearing the noise. Reggie tried to enrage him with words, and just when he was about to lose his cool, Cam pulled a rope, and a bucket of bleach fell over him. They all ran for their lives and attacked his wife, who was equally heinous. She tried to attack them with a pair of scissors that she managed to push into Reggie’s stomach. The three grabbed hold of her and threw her into the basement. They locked the door and secured it. As they were leaving, Kelly contacted Brenda, and they realized she was within close quarters. They met her and briefed her about what had happened. Even though Reggie wanted to take the bag of money, the rest of the family wanted to keep it for the couple to not bother them anymore.
As the family rejoiced when their car started working, the couple escaped from the basement and was ready to murder the family. They got in their car with their guns and tracked down the family. Reggie drove the car as fast as he could, but the maniac couple was not ready to give up. They continued to chase and shoot at their car. Brenda had the gun that they had stolen from the couple’s house and shot at them. As a result of the car chase, the trunk of the car opened, and their luggage dispersed on the road. Brenda fell off from the car, and Reggie stopped at a distance. Brenda submitted herself to the couple and asked them to take her and spare her family. The couple was about to run their car over her, but she dropped a road flare into the car before rolling off the path to save her life. The car caught on fire, and the couple was finally eliminated.
The next morning, Reggie revealed that he had stolen the cash from the scene. Brenda thought it was dishonest money and was not ready to accept it. But her children refuted her opinion, stating that the money belonged to no one now and, therefore, taking the money was not technically harmful to them or anyone else. Brenda ultimately agreed to keep it. In some strange way, they found the money that would help them live a better life, but it came at a high price. The fact that Captain Hammers was actually Mr. Cross became apparent as the story progressed. It explains why the police were never able to get hold of the deadly man who had murdered over fifty people. At night he dealt with his business as Mr. Cross, and in the morning, he studied the case as the Captain of the Arizona State Troopers. He had murdered Harvey Ruck but had to flee the scene, knowing that the people around him had heard a gunshot. He thought of taking the bag of cash in the morning when he would step into the scene as the Captain, but when he returned, he saw that the bag was missing. It was clear that the family had left with the bag because it was only, they who had entered the crime scene.
“End of the Road” ends with a sense of relief as the family can now start afresh. But the fact that they could escape after killing a policeman and his wife might be a stretch.
“End of the Road” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Millicent Shelton.