Bickering mother and daughter Senga and Nat pick up a spooky bohemian hitchhiker while travelling home along the American freeway. After a blazing row in a quiet truck stop, Senga sees Nat disappear in a caravan with the hitcher and a mysterious couple
Marcus Adams made his cinematic debut with the risible Long Time Dead and, if nothing else, Octane improves on that. By pilfering from some of the best examples of the road movie thriller genre (The Vanishing, The Hitcher), Adams and screenwriter Stephen Volk create a premise ripe for thrills, yet never exploit it to its full potential.
It starts well enough, with a twisty opening scene that sees Stowe and the pouty, petulant Barton on the constant brink of tearing each other's eyes out.
Its failing, surprisingly for a film so perfect for B-movie shocks, is pretension. Adams seems reluctant to simply tell the story and gets muddled in an onslaught of Lynchian surrealism. Unlike Lynch, though, the weirdness is neither imaginative nor elegant enough to spark interest in what it actually means, and the third act - with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as another effete weirdo - is not only dull, but also utterly baffling.
In parts it often seems that a better and more coherent film is littering the cutting room floor.