PLOT: A college prof is trying to break off the affair he’s having with another woman. As he heads downtown to do it, he draws the ire of a mysterious dark biker by accident without even realizing it. This sends Dennis’ life into a tailspin as the biker’s out for revenge.
REVIEW: Obviously taking its inspiration from Duel (which is directly referenced in an early scene, by name), Rage is a tense, road rage filled suspense flick that is going to grab you by your throat and dare you to go along for the ride, although things change when the final act of the film rolls around.
The movie moves at a quick speed, and doesn’t try to waste any time with scenes that don’t advance the plot. The viewer wants to know who could be wearing the black skins and why they’re after our man Dennis. The flick plays out as an exciting cat and mouse chase throughout the city as Dennis is being pursued. Acting is strong here, especially from Rick Crawford who plays Dennis and has to go through the emotional gauntlet, from oblivious to cocky to downright desperate. He gets a little heavy-handed by the end, but it’s forgiveable.
The violence and tension ramps up gradually but builts to a fever pace, as we see things like Dennis’ car getting keyed, and him being cut off at stop lights. It picks up from here, as Dennis goes through hell, getting the living daylights beaten out of him and even having the brakes cut in his car. This includes some great chase scenes, including a really memorable moment or two during in a parking garage. As the viewer, we have a few natural suspects for the biker’s identity (he’s played by Chris Witherspoon, who also wrote, directed and edited the damn film), but we can’t be sure. I also wondered why Rick didn’t go to the police after awhile. I mean, I know the guy had an affair and doesn’t want that becoming public knowledge during a potential investigation. Still though, he was trying to break it off and things get awfully violent for the poor guy.
Some may not complain about this, but I didn’t like the final confrontation. It felt to me as though director Witherspoon spent so much time raising a tense atmosphere, and then squanders it by turning the finale into a graphic and brutal battle (which includes an unpleasant rape scene and an assault on the elderly). On top of feeling unnecessarily violent (not that I mind violence, it’s just such a switch of gears here), Dennis’ character kind of falls off at the end, turning into a real whiny wiener who just watches these atrocities being committed. Sure, he does end up retaliating eventually but doesn’t exactly endear himself to the viewer while doing it.
As for the ending, things are a bit far-fetched and the biker was a little too quick to get up after some major trauma. Yes, the identity is revealed and it does add up, but I wasn’t totally wowed by it. That’s really debatable though, some people may love this ending. Sure, there are some problems with this film but on the whole, it’s one of the better indie horror flicks I’ve watched in quite some time. It looks good, it’s acted quite well, it has nail-biting moments up the wazoo and resolves itself in the end. I would undoubtedly recommend it. If nothing else, I hope you all learn not to cut off that biker in your town, no matter how obnoxious those engines get.