After being released from prison, Parrish returns to his old stomping ground and gets in touch with some old friends looking for work. The Reverend, who appears to be running all the shady business in town, promises to help Parrish out. For old times' sake. When Parrish shows up to his new work detail he ends up witnessing the execution of the Reverend by a rival gang and is forced to roam the land. Seeking salvation from the same men who wish to kill him as well.
"The Road to Nod" is the fictitious feature film debut of documentary filmmaker M.A. Littler. If you know your religious doctrine, then you are already know where the movie's title comes from. If you're like me and you have no friggin clue, the movie makes it abundantly clear in the beginning. The concept behind Littler's film comes from a passage in the Book of Genesis, where Cain was banished to roam the land of Nod after killing his brother, Abel.
"The Road to Nod" is about a man by the name of Parrish who, after being released from prison, tries to return to his old life believing that he paid his debt. After meeting up with the Reverend and a few old friends it appears that Parrish is on his way to doing just that. Until the Reverend meets a gruesome demise at the hands of a rival gang and sends Parrish on the run.
There isn't anything else to "The Road to Nod"; it is minimalistic piece of artistic neo-noir. Instead of focusing on uncovering the mystery to a current crime like most noir films, "The Road to Nod" is more about what happens after. Taking more influence from its biblical based roots, the movie is about trying to seek redemption and salvation even though the lead character is still running from his past. On his journey, Parrish comes across some of his old friends that use to be in the same gang. Hoping they will provide a safe haven for the wanderer but none of them wish to get mixed up in the current ordeal that Parrish finds himself in. As they have come to terms with what they did and are now attempting to redeem themselves while Parrish never talks about or admits to what he did to land himself in jail.
This becomes the focus and the point of the movie as we never understand what Parrish did or exactly why the rival gang is so intent on killing him. It isn't until he meets these different characters -- some new, some old -- that he slowly begins to confess to things that he's done. It leaves the conclusion of the movie up for a philosophical debate as he ends his wandering when he confides his story to a unnamed woman with a gun.
"The Road to Nod" is not an exciting or thrilling movie at all. Even though the story is about a man on the run from gang members who want to kill him, it is about Parrish and his atonement for what he has done. I found it made for an interesting movie due to combining biblical themes and ideals in with a crime-drama-noir tale. It gave the movie that little kick that was needed to give it its own personality and, quite frankly, made the time spent watching it more worthwhile. The artistic look and feel made the viewing more gratifying as well; it wasn't just another noir-esque movie.
There is an undeniable resemblance of Jim Jarmusch's work within the "The Road to Nod" that includes Littler's use of musicians for actors (Delaney Davidson and Reverend Beat-Man were exceptional) to the minimalist nature of the movie and camera work. "The Road to Nod" is composed of mostly static shots and very little movement yet all the scenes are exceptional beautiful to look at. I don't know if Jarmusch had a direct influence on Littler so I can't say with certainty that it is Jarmuschian, but there is a resemblance. And that's not a bad thing at all.
Still, "The Road to Nod" is not a movie that I would actually recommend to just anyone. This is a movie that people should know is out there but seek on their own because it will only appeal to a very, very small crowd. It isn't the most exciting movie you'll watch but it is an interestingly quiet little film that combines religious themes and noir.