Thankfully, the movie is artfully filmed and tends to avoid gratuitous imagery in its presentation of utter human depravity. And while horrific doom constantly feels close at hand, actual scenes of violence are far and few between. When they do occur, they are haunting, especially those which the director chooses to let you hear but not see.

Though The Road concludes on a hopeful note—the fragile promise of community—detractors still exist. "There were a couple people who questioned whether or not The Boy is actually saved and redeemed at the end," says Hillcoat. "And Cormac was so thrown by that. He said, 'Of course! The whole point is The Boy made that leap of faith and was saved.'"

And the one thing viewers should take away from the movie? "What really matters," replies the director. Adds Hotsenpiller, "You really look at life through a different set of lenses. People become more important. Moments become more important. Being kind becomes more important. This movie really has an unusual affect on people."

Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language, The Road opens wide in theaters on Wednesday, November 25, 2009.

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**This interview first published on November 23, 2009.