By Admin | May 17, 2000

Jamie, his parents and his little sister are enjoying an evening of family fun at the carnival. As they load up in the car to head home, a frightened little girl runs towards them, asking for her mommy. A man, clean-cut but a little creepy, scoops up the child, apologizes, and strides away. As they leave, Jamie and the girl lock eyes. The next morning, Jamie wakes to the sounds of his parents arguing, assigning and deflecting the blame for something. As the young boy soon discovers from the morning newspaper headline, the little girl they saw had been molested and raped the night before. As traumatic as this is for Jamie, the real horror of Ben Spector’s “On the Way Home” might be what happens offscreen; after his mother realizes Jamie’s swiped her husband’s handgun, after we see Jamie leading his innocent sister deep into a wooded path, after the credits roll. With the jolting, awkwardly handled, and too-sudden transformation of the family from the Cleavers in the first half of the film into the Bundys in the second, it’s this ambiguous but unmistakably ominous ending that’s the most powerful part of this film. Did a spooked Jamie swipe the gun to protect his sister on their way to school…or was he so traumatized by the previous night’s encounter, that he has a more extreme form of “protection” in mind? It’s the implications of the latter, too awful and too tragic to contemplate, that rescue “On the Way Home” from its own inherent schizophrenia.

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