Toad Road


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DECEMBER 17, 2013





  • SKU: ART13
  • UPC: 854555004255
  • ISBN: 9781939196125
  • RATING: Not rated
  • YEAR: 2012
  • LENGTH: 76 Minutes (Feature), 31 Minutes (Bonus)
  • AUDIO: English, 2.0 Stereo
  • ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1
  • COLOR: Color
  • BONUS MATERIAL: Audio Commentary with Jason Banker, James Davidson, Jamie Siebold, Scott Rader, and Jorge Torres-Torres, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Featurette, James Davidson and Sara Anne Jones Audition Video, DUI Story, Shotgun a Beer clip, Trailers, 8-page collectible booklet





A different kind of American independent horror film, the hypnotic Toad Road, presented by Elijah Wood and his SpectreVision production company, unfolds like a hallucinatory cross between the sexual candor of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, and the backwoods creep-out of The Blair Witch Project. Young James kills time with his small town druggie friends, engaging in excessive chemical intake, until he meets sweet new arrival Sara. But just as James wants to abandon the narcotics life, Sara wants him to take her further into mind-altering experimentation…and she also wants him to introduce her to the sinister local legend of Toad Road, a spot deep in the forest that is apparently home to the Seven Gates of Hell. Writer-director Jason Banker’s debut is a unique fusion of documentary-like realism, and otherworldly, haunting rural terror. Unlike any other film you’ll see this year, Toad Road is a mesmerizing trip.


Director: Jason Banker
Running time: 76 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Screenwriters: Jason Banker
Cast: Sara Anne Jones, James Davidson, Jim Driscoll, Whitleigh Higuera, Damon Johansen, Andy Martin, Scott Rader, Jamie Siebold, Donnie Simmons
Producer: Jason Banker, Elizabeth Levine, Adrian Salpeter
Executive Producer: Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller
Cinematography: Jason Banker
Editors: Jorge Torres-Torres

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Toad Road is the first unique horror film to come along in years.” -

“…more genuine and disturbing than any “Blair Witch”-style hokum.” - The Wall Street Journal

“The year is quickly coming to an end and I am ready to say that Toad Road is my pick for Film of the Year, 2013.” -

“”Those who relish a thoughtful yet disturbing film, that isn’t prepared to lay all the answers out neatly, will have a lot to enjoy here. Writer / director Jason Banker has crafted an engaging film that defies easy categorization.” -

“This film has something that can’t be faked: a true feel for the broken, tragic fury of life needlessly squandered.”

“…an uncomfortably authentic drama…” The New York Times

“…the amazingly effective Toad Road argues, a life lost in the pharmaceutical haze of aimless arrested development is destined to be destroyed, or at the very least, deferred.”


DAILYTROJAN.COM: Independent horror film to feature amateur actors

Promo Still

The ethereal, independent horror film Toad Road, which premieres this Friday at Hollywood’s Arena Cinema, asks, “How far would you be willing to go down Toad Road?”

The film, which was written, produced and directed by Jason Banker, chronicles the nightmarish misadventures of a young drug user James. Sarah, a new arrival into the small rural town, begins experimenting with narcotics with James. The two also visit Toad Road, a spot in the forest that — as local legend has it — leads to the Seven Gates of Hell. [Read the full article here]!

CINEMABLEND.COM: Trip Out On This Toad Road Clip And Posters


James Davison stars as James, a slacker whose life is full of hanging out with friends and doing assortments of drugs. Sara (Sara Anne Jones) is a new member of the group whose innocence becomes drowned in intoxicants, and she and James get along quite well. And then after everyone is good and trashed on a regular basis, someone brings up Toad Road, a path in the near vicinity of their partying which has seven wooden gates that lead straight to Hell. And then…I have no idea. That’s why I want to see this movie so much. [Read the full article here]!

DREADCENTRAL.COM: Follow the Toad Road Into Theaters This October!

It was around this time last year that Elijah Wood’s company SpectreVision (formerly known as The Woodshed) acquired Jason Banker’s Toad Road (review), which Wood himself described as a special film that needs to be seen. And it soon will be.

Today comes the announcement that the film is embarking on a theatrical run this October before it hits DVD and VOD outlets on December 10th. [Read the full article here]!

In Memory of Sara Anne Jones


American Ghost Story: The Brief, Eerie Life of Model Sara Anne Jones.

Click here to read this touching memorial.

Watch Sara Anne Jones in Death Cab for Cutie’s video for their song, Stay Young, Go Dancing.




What sort of movie is Toad Road? If this movie gets the kind of attention it deserves, this question will soon get old. It is often billed as a non-traditional horror movie. It certainly has some horrifying elements, and it can induce a sense of dread if you think about it long enough. Yet it has so many other elements as well – from the documentary aspect to the love story – that the genre question seems trite. Toad Road is a film that will not scare you in the ways you may be used to, but it may really grab your imagination. [Read the full article here]!



Jason Banker masterfully mixes the harsh realism with slick, sparse supernatural elements, all the while shooting some gorgeous scenery with an artistic eye. Effectively accenting the powerfully dreary story is the beautiful original electronic music put together by Dag Rosenqvist. Also adding to the film’s capacity to unsettle and haunt, the leading lady Sara Anne Jones died of an overdose just after the film’s premiere in 2012. Her magnetic performance in Toad Road is all the more tragic, endearing and moving knowing that she would lose her life outside of a film that could have just as easily ended the same way. She and James—the only two with any real acting time in the movie—were incredible; especially considering that neither was an actor beforehand and had no script, only improvisation. [Read the full article here]!


It’s a bit of a stretch to describe Toad Road as a horror movie, at least in the traditional sense. There’s very little blood, no gore and none of the standard horror film clichés. But it does create a convincing sense of disquiet and dread, and a feeling of unreality pervades it that keeps the audience off balance. [Read the full article here]!



You could call the movie a cautionary tale, a horror movie, or a partial documentary but regardless of labels Toad Road makes for a pretty intense and unsettling watch. The two leads do excellent work, we buy them in their roles and anyone who has ever decided, stoned or otherwise, to go check out the truth behind that urban myth will probably be able to relate to the eeriness that happens later in the movie. The empty woods become not serene or fun, but menacing and scary, full of darkness and the unknown. Banker paces all of this well, he pulls us into the story and keeps us guessing. It never bombards us with earth shattering terror but instead simply unsettles, it makes us uncomfortable simply because it ensures that we can’t look away. [Read the full article here]!


Though the phrase was originally used by William Blake, Aldous Huxley titled his book about his experiences with mescaline The Doors of Perception. It’s an evocative phrase, one that clearly signals that perception, like a door, can be thrown open wide or closed abruptly. For Huxley, mescaline was one way to open those doors. The problem with the phrase, though, is that “doors” can be pretty generic. There are screen doors that barely keep out insects, wooden doors, steel doors, and the doors on a bank vault. All those different doors are designed to keep certain things in and out—the doors to our perception aren’t terribly different. Which is another way of saying that when you open the doors of perception (with drugs, or meditation, or traumatic experience), you can never been sure what’s on the other side. Toad Road is a horror movie allegory about the dangers of opening perceptions when something nasty lurks just out of view. It’s going to be a tough sell to most viewers, but the patient will find an oddly affecting take on drugs and urban legends. [Read the full article here]!


For many of us found footage is a great way to say “I don’t want to watch this.” The sub-genre has had little innovation and there have been far to many cheap-o flicks that use the “style” to make a film from nothing, and more often then not it also involves zero planning and zero talent in front of or behind the camera. Many film fans shudder at the mere mention of the trope, but let me tell you Toad Road is a film that uses the style very well, without cheesy tricks or nausea inducing camera shaking. [Read the full article here]!


Toad Road has been getting an abundance of attention, rightfully so, and I want to advise you first to enjoy the picture before reading any reviews about this movie including this one. I get quite a few recommendations come across my desk for films to watch or requests to review. Some of them I delve into, deeply, trying to find out just what I’m going to be seeing on screen before I actually view it. Research and research and watch the trailer, but typically I’ll avoid reviews until after viewing. Other movies I just let wash over me, fresh and untouched. These are usually movies that I haven’t internally hyped or haven’t been slammed down my throat by the usual mainstreams sources. Toad Road from Spectre Films as released by Artsploitation Films caught my attention because everyone seemed to be talking about it and because Artsploitation has been lighting up my radar like a V formation set of bogies over American soil carrying “the bomb”. With Wither and Hidden in the Woods impressing me and the general positive buzz from some close friends, I stepped onto Toad Road blindly and was shocked in the best way possible though there were moments where I felt the story to be a little too familiar. [Read the full article here]!


If you watch a lot of films, sometimes it’s good to have a taste of something offbeat to cleanse the palate. Toad Road is marketed as an adventurous new kind of horror film. That is simply not the case at all. What we do have is a very interesting, mostly non linear take on the seduction and horrors of letting your life revolve around drugs. Director Jason Banker gets a lot out of his micro budget. He’s blessed with two good actors in the lead roles who seem very much in sync with the kind of film he wants to present. It’s a small cast with the actors using their own names. The locations are very limited as is the equipment, but this movie can work its way under your skin. [Read the full article here]!


Toad Road isn’t a conventional horror film. And it wants you to know that, as do the film’s distributors Artsploitation Films. Which isn’t to say that such a claim is unwarranted. In this case, it is. But, what makes Toad Road so hard to describe is the same thing that makes it so unique: its utter defiance. [Read the full article here]!

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Tripping All the Way to the Gates of Hell: TOAD TOAD REVIEW


If you enter Toad Road expecting a conventional horror movie, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you’re looking for an uncomfortably authentic drama about the horrors of dedicated drug use, then this strange little number from Jason Banker (who also wrote the screenplay and wielded the camera) might just do the trick. [Read the full article here]!


Not quite a horror movie, and all the fresher for that, the debut fictional feature by cinematographer Jason Banker (Richard’s Wedding, Teenage Paparrazo) revolves around a gang of misfit college-age kids whose druggy misadventures lead two of them to explore a local urban legend about a wooded portal to hell. The rough-edged realism and delinquent melieu evoke Larry Clark, but the film finally abandons social anthropology as it tilts toward a trippy freakout. Mr. Banker uses the trappings of genre as a springboard into the dark corners of a paranoid imagination, creating a sense of madness that’s more genuine and disturbing than any Blair Witch-style hokum.

THE L MAGAZINE: A Bad Trip Made Literal: Toad Road


When an actual walk down Toad Road ends with months of time and a person both gone missing, it articulates what too many drugs can do: make you lose not only stretches of your life but also the people you love. That increasingly destructive trajectory ends, like the movie, in solitude, underscoring the essential loneliness of rockbottom. As one character (James Davidson) says to his acid-crazed girlfriend (Sara Anne Jones), who’s, um, piecing the mysteries of the world together, “There is no bigger picture to drugs.” At least not when used chronically—they’re just good feelings until they aren’t. [Read the full article here]!

LA WEEKLY: Toad Road

The lore contends that Toad Road, running somewhere near York, Pa., leads to the Seven Gates of Hell. The road’s series of ramshackle gates brings travelers deeper and deeper into the wilderness, as each triggers increasingly chthonic phenomena for the poor souls who dare to cross its threshold to endure; no one has ever made it past the fifth. This is the legend upon which Jason Banker’s messy, ambitious Toad Road rests, and it’s part of what makes the film an exceedingly rare example of docu-horror in which it’s genuinely difficult to discern what’s scripted and what isn’t. [Read the full article here]


Toad Road, which follows a group of disillusioned American twentysomethings as they hang out, play bad garage music, and snort, drop, and drink any and all drugs they can get their hands on. The behavior is alarmingly and realistically staged, and you don’t have to be a prude to wonder if 75 minutes in the company of these people is really time well spent. But writer-director Jason Banker pulls off a surprising sleight of hand just when you’re ready to write his film off as another rambling, self-pitying, quasi-found-footage/mumblecore revel in despairing pointlessness. He gradually distances himself from his characters without compromising a sense of compassion, which is an admirable and difficult feat to pull off for even far more experienced directors. The filmmaker also finds the ironic beauty that arises from his characters’ self-contemptuous and misplaced acts of destruction…This film has something that can’t be faked: a true feel for the broken, tragic fury of life needlessly squandered. [Read the full article here]

VARIETY: Film Review – Toad Road


…has a very credible, lived-in feel to its slacker-culture sketch, with effective performances to match. More ominous, perhaps supernaturally tinged bits are fleeting but atmospheric, making good use of various-artists tracks heavy on unsettling ambient sounds. [Read the full article here]

The Conduit Speaks: Toad Road Review

I seem to have fallen in with a certain crowd as of late. Watching films that are truly blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Films that examine the human condition in a variety of ways and arenas, but seem to essentially be saying very similar things about all of us: we are not safe. We’re not safe from the external unknown, we’re not safe from the lies that we all tell ourselves on a regular basis, and most of all: none of us are particularly immune to the darkness that inevitably will pass through us at some point during our time on this mortal coil. That being said, and strangely enough, I like movies that examine this type of traumatic reality. [Read the full article here]


Vice Magazine: Jason Banker and Elijah Wood on ‘Toad Road’

Promo Still

Their New Film Blends the Horrors of Reality with Fiction By Rocco Castoro

Toad Road is a new film directed and produced by Jason Banker that simultaneously expands the parameters of what documentary filmmaking can be and blurs the lines between that format and traditional scripted filmmaking. In production since 2008, Jason views the film as a “horror-thriller” that follows the lives of a group of hard-living young friends who pursue an urban legend in York, Pennsylvania, that concerns a path in the woods that supposedly leads to the seven gates of hell. Their journey is one of self-discovery, heavy drug use, nihilism, and all of the other things young people around the world are struggling with at this very instant. What sets Toad Road apart from other movies is that the film was conceptualized and shot in a hybrid documentary-feature style, weaving a narrative out of the real lives of its subjects in a way that hits on greater truths than either form is capable of alone. [Read the full article here]!

Interview with Jason Banker, Director of Toad Road

Director Jason Banker On Drug Use And Paranormal Experiences In ‘Toad Road’ [Fantasia ’12 Interview]

Jason Banker’s debut feature film, Toad Road, had its world premiere at Fantasia Film Festival 12. Banker has quite the impressive cinematographer portfolio, working on many documentaries such as My Name Is Faith, and All Tomorrow’s Parties, but with Toad Road, Banker delivers a realistic portrayal of a drug induced paranormal world. The film explores an urban legend about The Seven Gates Of Hell, and it follows a group of misled party-goers who venture a bit too far into the rabbit hole.

Jason Banker took the time to chat with me about his first feature film, his past relationship with drug use, urban legends, and a lot more… [Read the full article here!]



Jason Banker is an independent filmmaker living in New York City. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, he has a BFA in photography from York College. Jason was an associate producer on Jonathan Caouette’s award winning film Tarnation and cinematographer for All Tomorrow’s Parties and Teenage Paparazzo. Focusing on youth culture, Banker documents his subjects’ reckless journeys of self-discovery.