Its Duel on a bike, in this nasty little horror that some may love….
The sad indictment of the closure of all Retail DVD Rental shops is that its now harder to find diamonds among the many straight to Monday offerings. The days of scanning those shelves, looking for an oddity among the blockbusters was one of the biggest thrills for any film fan, and if it weren’t for fan websites and word of mouth these days, many films would go unnoticed, which is a shame as behind the big horror releases, there are many hidden beauties to be found.
The Torment, Session 9, The Objective and countless more, were all horrors fans on forums talked about for hours and then sat there gutted that many others are missing out on them. Hence the creation of HorrorCultFilms, a website I write for and now this, my own blog, bringing films to the attention of those who have never heard of them before. Now that most rentals are on-line, its more easier not to see many releases as its not the same, scanning pages on the internet, than actually having that DVD in your hand.
Rage only came to my attention yesterday, when I discovered it among a batch in a local second hand shop. Released a few years back and reviewed by our very own Bat, over on HCF, the DVD cover seduced me with its many quotes from top horror sites, especially the one that stated “Spielberg s DUEL meets HALLOWEEN” which if you going to even mention that John Carpenter film then you already have this Number One Michael Myers fan on-board. It also enticed me with the Duel comparison, the first film by Steven Spielberg that is so underrated and been has been lost in time, under the likes of JAWS, E.T. and countless other classics by the beard man.
I paid my money and rushed home, a memory I have not had since the closure of Blockbusters and chucked on the DVD in hope that I have come across another unknown classic with also a tint of anger that its taken me over two years to even know about this film.
Was these thoughts worth it though?
First of all, there is nothing more menacing that a bogeyman with no motive, as mentioned by Billy Loomis in Scream. Rage offers that up in a big huge dose. The figure of doom in question is a biker all in black who for no reason starts to terrorise Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford). Well we get an inclining that maybe its because, bad old Dennis may have a wife in the shape of Crystal (Audrey Walker), but that does not stop him from having an affair with Dana (Anna Lodej). Its his guilt that starts the nightmare of the day event’s, he leaves the comfort of his home to meet up with Dana to tell her it is over. She explains that an Ex Boyfriend of her’s is very jealous and dangerous, just as we see a biker turn up, watching Dennis.
What follows is a game of cat and mouse. Beginning with nothing more that a gentle tease, but then turning out into a full scale war, with poor Dennis going through the mill by this relentless figure who simply wants nothing more than causing as much pain as possible.
For storyline that is it, writer and director Christopher Witherspoon does all he can with such a tiny budget, using the cash restraint to ignore massive set-pieces and just concentrate on good old fashion tension scares and for the majority of the time it works. A human being pursued by an unstoppable force is one of the many good points of horror and its obvious that Witherspoon uses DUEL as the films main influence even going too far by having two side characters talking about the film, with Dennis listening on.
While the film comes nowhere near the quality of that film, for a basic movie, you can only marvel at the heart and energy that has gone into this movie, it may lose its way at times, but for a straight to DVD Offering, its one of the better filmed and has a brilliant score to surround it.
There is one silly moment that I hated and threatened to bring the quality down, its the Scream 4 type shock moment of a “film within a film” only this time its a dream, which originally had me going “WOW!”, but then when I saw what was happening, I felt a bit cheated, but luckily the film recovers with a final half that switches the theme from thriller, to downright horror.
All bets are off as the climax brings the biker into a murderous and thunderous rage which results in scenes of a chainsaw and an uncomfortable “rape” that may make you question the “horror” element on display, as it comes out of the blue and it weren’t something I expected.
Witherspoon’s love for the genre shines through and Rage benefits from having a talented director behind the lens, as in lesser hands, you feel this could have been a disaster. The thrill first half chase could have had more meat on its bones, and the horror element could have been started earlier, so Rage is an uneven film at best, but still a decent straight to DVD offering, that is destined for a bit of cult love……