If a mystery or a twist in a film is predictable, is the movie still worthwhile? What I mean is, does the success of the story rely solely on that reveal? If you know what turns the story takes within the first few minutes of the film, are you still able to be engaged by the plot? For me, the answer lies on a case-by-case basis. Presuming the acting, directing, cinematography, and other categories one can weigh a film by, are up to snuff, then the movie can absolutely still work. Of course, if most, or all, of those elements fail, then the shortcomings of the conventional plot become more noticeable, sometimes to the point of distraction.
What Lies Ahead hinges off a twist that you’ll easily surmise after the first five minutes; one that even the trailer gives away. With that in mind, what is this Rob Gardner directed, road trip thriller about? Kyle (Kelly Blatz) and Raven’s (Rumer Willis) mother recently died in their hometown in Georgia. Kyle lives in New York City and intends to fly back there and then road trip with his sister back to NYC; where Raven will be moving to be closer to her only living family.
However, Kyle gets called into the hospital where he works and is unable to make the trip. In his stead, his significant other Jessica (Emma Dumont) goes to Georgia and meets up with Raven. The two ladies finish loading up the car and hit the road. They make small talk, play a few road games (including an odd variation of truth or dare), and get to know each other during the long trip. Upon stopping for gas, Jessica is unable to find her phone and freaks out. Raven calms her down, swearing it must be buried amongst all the other junk in the car.
“…intends to fly back there and then road trip with his sister back to NYC…In his stead, his significant other…meets up with Raven.”
After checking into a motel for the night, the newly minted friends hit up a bar. They both drink a little too much, so Raven gets a random guy named Buddy (James Harper) there to hit on Jessica. Jessica attempts to make polite small talk, but the man proves a little too insistent for her liking, so she excuses herself to the restroom. Buddy and a friend of his follow the ladies across the street to their motel. Jessica is scared but Raven pulls a gun on the two, and they leave without incident. The next morning, Jessica tells Raven that she does not appreciate her little stunt and Raven cites her inebriated state as the reason for it. The way Raven apologizes puts Jessica on edge, as other elements of Raven’s behavior have puzzled her from the start. But, Kyle is too busy at the hospital to answer his phone whenever his sister calls, so answers are hard to come by. What are Raven’s true intentions toward Jessica? Or is Jessica making a big deal over nothing more than a strong-willed person acting out while in a state of grief?