Drama , horror
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16th Apr 12
Thirty something Dennis Twist manages to irk a motorcyclist and so begins a cat and mouse chase that ends in bloody carnage.
If you were to Google the movie title Rage you’d be agog at the amount of celluloid that has previously adorned with such a short and to the point moniker. It proved to be a confusing issue especially when researching writer / director / editor / producer / cinematographer / visual effects / sound / co-star Christopher R. Witherspoon’s thriller cum horror as many a healthy if not glowing review had been thrust its way. Surely there was some mistake. Had other reviewers online got their Rage wires confused? Witherspoon’s movie is barely capable of squeezing a second star for its rating let alone the dribbling, enthusiastic nonsense other sites were gushing over this low budget offering. So much so that this reviewer began to wonder if he’d actually seen the same flick.
Rage does have a couple of plus points, the initial pacing and the odd bit of acting is better than could be expected, but they are minimal so for others to rave about it purely, it seems, on the basis that it’s a low budget horror, rather than a bigger budgeted studio effort, and in their collective gaze better than most, seems to be earning Rage a status it really doesn’t deserve.
Admittedly a lot of genre flicks regardless of budgetary constraints can be pure crap; as can any movie across the board regardless of type. It’s a poor argument for putting second rate nonsense on a pedestal that blatantly should be kept clear for more deserving flicks. It doesn’t matter a jot what the finance is behind a movie, it’s whether it can deliver the goods. And if the rationale for its current standing amongst similar websites is purely based on budget (they dwell on it a lot their argued case for Rage's worthiness) then how about we compare it to the likes of The Blair Witch Project which allegedly cost peanuts as did British zombie flick Colin which cost the equivalent of seventy dollars. It's a redundant comparison as both those movies have innovation and spunk to spare whereas Witherspoon's movie is both derivative and undone by a climax that feels tacked on from a different movie.
Thirty something suburban Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford) loves his wife Crystal (Audrey Walker) and she loves him too. Thing is our Dennis also loves someone else but not for much longer. Her name is Dana (Anna Lodej) and when we meet Dennis he is on his way to meet Dana and dump her. To do so Dennis meets Dana in a public place – hardly keeping things secret now, is he? Aside from saying he’s leaving her because you know he really does love his wife after all Dennis mentions that there’s also the rather troubling matter of Dana’s ex-boyfriend Steve who once threatened him, and of course he has to be an ex-convict because, you know, that just makes him sound even worse for the viewer.
Dana seems to take this news rather well considering; but why would we need to care about what she thinks? What’s really important is a mysterious black-clad motorcyclist (Christopher Witherspoon), whom Dennis cut up earlier, who takes to giving Dennis grief as he attempts to drive back home. From scraping his car, to attacking him in a public place and spilling his coffee this anonymous assailant is a real meanie; but should we be sympathetic to our Dennis? After all he is a philanderer and only really seemed to dump Dana lest he get more crap from troublesome Steve... oh hang on! Maybe this biker IS Steve! That’s what Dennis gets to thinking and because he doesn't want his loving wife to find out about Dana he refuses at any stage to involve the police in the escalating madness.
It’s a rather trite plot mechanism for not involving the police when the outcome is obvious anyhow. Why obvious? Well check out the conversation between two fellas overheard as Dennis awaits for his brakes to be repaired, about Duel (1971), Spielberg's classic man versus monstrous truck flick. Talk about spoon-feeding the audience! It's so ham-fisted; blatantly informing anyone that’s seen or familiar with Duel far too much in terms of where Rage is heading.
After an hour or so of cat-and-mouse chasing between Dennis and the aggressive motorcyclist Witherspoon drops the suspense aspect and goes full out for shock value with a rape scene and some over the top and frankly unnecessary murders that feel tacked on just to pad out the running time. Any semblance of credibility that had been maintained throughout the first half is quickly dispensed during the climatic moments. Two people are killed in a rather messy and terrifically noisy fashion in their house, which NO ONE ELSE locally hears in the quiet of night which would be entertaining normally, but which is out of sorts with the rest of the flick!
As a thriller Rage lacks plausibility. Surely after being attacked and stabbed by your tormentor and left bloodied THAT would really be a very very good time to call the police regardless of whatever the helmeted fiend’s motives are and whether your wife would end up finding out about your infidelity as a consequence. It brings to mind Brad and Janet’s dilemma in The Rocky Horror Picture Show where no matter what they are faced by or whatever indignities become them Brad throughout clings onto the comical notion of ‘Don’t worry they may have a phone we can use’. Dennis Twist adopts a similarly gormless mantra whether stabbed, pursued or watching his wife raped in front of him with his ‘I can’t do anything because my wife might learn I’ve been having an affair - even if I have ended it’ philosophy. Doesn’t hold water really does it?
With Dennis' motive for not informing the police flawed the rest of the plot and its intended thrills dissipate rapidly, as does any tension. Chances are you’ll realise what the biker is all about in terms of who he is or isn’t, which shouldn’t come as much as a shock really if you’ve seen movies like this before, and you’ll be like ‘what the fuck’ and you slowly switch off. Not flawed enough to remain an interesting failure Rage instead feels ill-considered and lacking the logic required to make it tick over nicely. If you find yourself considering this for your evening's viewing pleasure do yourself a favour; change gear and pick up something else instead.