Written and directed by Chris Witherspoon comes Rage, a low budget, American independent horror film. Set in Portland, it focuses on a man (Rick Crawford) who one morning, after kissing his wife (Audrey Walker) goodbye, heads into town and breaks up with his girlfriend. On his way he has an unintentional run in with a biker (Chris Witherspoon) and spends the rest of the day in a standoff with the motorcyclists. What appears to starts off fairly harmlessly quickly escalates into something that will make you think twice about double crossing someone over a parking space or becoming romantically involved with someone who isn’t quite available ever again.
When I pressed play on the DVD remote, I was instantly surprised at the quality of the film. This is a movie that looks like it has been shot on a much larger budget and with a much more experience crew than it probably was. Each shot is carefully considered and cut and the movie flows seamlessly throughout its entire duration – this is clearly made by someone who has great awareness of not just the horror genre, but film in general.
Rage has managed to shy away from the cheap scares that we see so often in the mainstream horror movies of today and has tapped into a seemingly never-ending well of suspense. Chris’ ability to build said anticipation is far rarer than the ability to shock, which I feel a lot of movies today rely too heavily on. However, that being said, there are more than a few occasions during Rage were you will genuinely be shocked. The film is a little slow at times as sometimes the suspense is just a bit too drawn out.
The build-up to those crucial final scenes isn’t wasted and we are not disappointed when everything begins to escalate beyond all possible imagining. I must say, there were a few scenes that I felt we could have done without including some of the not particularly relevant flashbacks and a few that were maybe only done to shock the audience, such as the scene with the elderly neighbours. I didn’t really see the motivation behind that and didn’t seem like something I could imagine our faceless biker doing.
This is in no way a light-hearted, fun film. In fact, it couldn’t be farther from that. Rick Crawford does a great job at portraying a man who is both terrified and riddled with guilt, but for me it is Audrey Walker who steals the show. She has the audience in the palm of her hand during one particular very powerful scene…I have never cheered for someone so much as I did for her at the end of this film.
The killer in Rage, the biker with no face, no identity and no name, is genuinely quite terrifying and for a while after seeing this I felt a pang of fear whenever a motorbike rode past. At one point recently a man on a black bike actually stopped outside my house and looked toward me in my kitchen window for an endless minute…I felt to reach for a knife and hide under the stairs.
Fans of John Carpenter, Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock definitely need to check outRage as they are clearly huge influences to Chris.
Rage is an independent movie that goes above and beyond the usual limitations we expect from low budget production. It is serious and dark and whilst it may take itself a little too seriously at times (just a tad) with a fairly overpowering sense of morality it is a film that demands attention, so wake up and smell the petrol already.