We see ominous scenes of desecrated and deserted American landscape, leading up to a little boy’s question: “How many people do you think are alive?”

“In the world?  Not very many.”

Thus begins the trailer for “The Road”, Cormac McCarthey’s most recent novel-turned film since “No Country For Old Men.”  And it’s looking no less intense.

Visuals of empty urban scenery are accompanied by an intensely eerie song that sounds like a sick blue whale.  The screen is then paraded by a slew of catastrophic events, a veritable ‘best of’ compilation of apocalypti: sweeping tidal waves, massive tornadoes, vast fires…

In the wake, we’re left with what seems like a nuclear family after a nuclear holocaust.  A father (Viggo Mortensen) is struggling to protect his, or somebody’s boy (Kodi Smit McPhee), while trying to comfort his worried and seemingly pessimistic wife (Charlize Theron).  Words like ‘protect’ and ‘chase’ make several appearances.

The trailer takes an interesting turn when we see a bearded (and nearly unrecognizable) Guy Pearce as a creepy bad-guy type.  He looks and talks like he’s in a remake of “Deliverance.”  Whatever he is, Pearce’s character is one of the people trying to “get” Viggo and his crew, though his motives are vague.

“They’re gonna catch up with us and they’re going to kill us,” declares Theron.

At the end, we’re told an epic journey is about to begin, though virtually all of the details are fuzzy.  But that surrealism is attractive and well-suits the intensity of the story.  It’s difficult to tell whether the vagueness will be clarified in the film or if it’ll perpetuate that surrealism further.  Hopefully, the film maintains that edge, as “No Country For Old Men” did so well.  John Hillcoat directs.