Over the years we have seen hundreds of independent movies on our screens. Nowadays, anybody who owns a camera is capable of creating their very own movie (and with the success of things like The Blair Witch Project, many more have gone out and purchased a hand-held camera to portray their own ‘found footage’ or whatever else…) It is a sad fact, that due to all of these amateurish attempts at film-making, genuine horror gems are lost amongst the trash. Fortunately for us however, we were lucky enough to encounter one of those gems!
I can’t even compare the quality of Rage to any other independent movie I’ve seen. The storyline, the acting, camera quality and location among other things is unparalleled! Most independent movies I’ve encountered over the years have all lacked a certain quality that reduced my overall impression. Rage had everything.
Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford) is a seemingly ordinary guy. He has a house, wife, and job – everything you would expect from an average Joe. A few minutes in and Dennis has a minor confrontation with a mysterious biker. He shrugs it off and goes about his business. Next, we learn that Dennis is a bit of a naughty boy when he goes to meet his bit on the side (or mistress to our international readers) However, he ends their affair and he’s back in our good books from then on. It’s then that things start to get gripping. The biker keeps popping up, tormenting Dennis more and more as the day goes on.
At this point the movie has a big ‘Duel’ feel to it, but I should point out that the director openly acknowledges the Spielberg flick as being an influence on his movie (There is also a tongue-in-cheek scene when two guys are discussing Duel while Dennis waits for his car to be repaired)
Not only is Christopher R. Witherspoon influenced by the Spielberg classic, it seems he also adopts a Tarantino-esque style when portraying flashbacks – Very effective in our opinion.
As the movie progresses, the whole storyline takes a dramatic turn. The psychotic game of cat and mouse comes to an end, and an even deadlier game starts. It’s at this point the biker is seen as a Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees type with a bit of Leatherface thrown in (I merely refer to Leatherface’s weapon of choice, not his cannibalistic tendencies – Although that would be cool right?) The body count starts to rise as our demented biker goes on a frenzy; mirroring the classic slasher flicks of the 80’s. There is also a pretty intense rape scene towards the end of the movie that some viewers may be put off by. The reasoning may be to create a bit of controversy; similar to that stirred by I Spit on Your Grave (although the rape scene in Rage is not really visual, more of an audible thing) Controversy makes very good publicity for movies like this, so in a way I hope people do find it controversial!
The movie draws to an end with a satisfying conclusion where we find out the reasoning behind the biker’s rage.
Overall I was extremely impressed. The movie wasn’t just a typical ‘psycho stalks his victim’ flick. It has a whole ‘what if’ feel, a bit like the Butterfly Effect (I’m referring to the chaos theory here, not the 2004 movie – although same thing I suppose) It makes you think – If he had just been a few minutes later to meet his mistress, would he have met the biker? Or better yet – If he hadn’t had a mistress in the first place he would never have got into all that trouble… The movie addresses a number of issues in a subtle manner that I believe edges it beyond the rest.
Don’t get me wrong, the film wasn’t perfect – there were a few small things that needed ironing out, but then again I’ve seen mainstream movies earning millions of dollars at box office with more problems! This movie is definitely one to watch. Despite the terrific acting from everyone involved in the project, I would have to say my favourite character is Clancy played by M.L. Maltz. The guy is hilarious and his acting is incredible!
One last thing I would like to mention – Some people (the wife included) might think that the idea of a biker going to such extremes is a bit unbelievable. I’ll tell these people the same thing I told my wife. I can always remember the time when a guy I used to work with came into the office shaking like a shitting dog. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he’d had an encounter with a van driver. He told us how he was late for work that morning and had been driving like an idiot – cutting people off and yelling abuse out the window. Well a guy driving a big white van didn’t take too kindly to this – He followed my friend for three miles! Right up his arse the whole time. My friend left the motorway – this guy followed. He drove down side streets – the guy followed. He entered the car park using his ID badge – the guy was unable to follow. For the entire day my friend kept looking out the window, thinking he might see the white van. He even asked us to walk him to his car every night after work! This is a prime example of road rage escalating (and a reason for me to tell this story which I love to recall!) this could actually happen, which gives Rage that bit more of an intense feel.
I think Christopher R. Witherspoon is definitely a film-maker to keep an eye on. If he was given a larger budget, the possibilities of his next project could be endless!