Rage opens in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood. Dennis Twist says goodbye to his wife as he heads into town. Aside from breaking up with his mistress the day is relatively normal and relaxed. That is until a motorcyclist targets Dennis for unknown reasons. The situation continues to escalate with each run in as Dennis’ very survival becomes questionable. Unable to go to the police, as it would out his affair to his wife, Dennis tries to lose the tail. Who is this helmeted pursuer? His ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend? How far will this concealed maniac’s rage drive him?
Rage is both a suspense/thriller and a horror film, parts Spielberg’s Duel with a dash of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. The first half is a paced thriller that sets up the film perfectly. Director Chris Witherspoon was obviously very inspired by Duel, using some of the same tactics Spielberg did in his film to great effect here. I loved the creepy high pitched toy like honk of the motorcyclist, a stark contrast to the large horn of the semi-truck in Duel. A few things are a little on the nose though, such as the pair of men talking about Steven Spielberg, Duel and Dennis Weaver in a car garage (this moment in particular took me out of the film momentarily), and the main character’s name ‘Dennis’ (Dennis Weaver starred in Duel). Regardless Witherspoon creates a very believable wind up to the second half of the film. No doubt much of this is aided not only in his directorial style, but also in his very menacing and ominous performance as the motorcyclist.
The second half of the film is essentially a home invasion. At this point Rage takes a sharp turn from suspense/thriller to pure horror. The amount of blood shed grows exponentially as the motorcyclist slowly takes on more of a Jason Voorhees vibe. There’s also a pretty rough rape scene. All are shot and done very well, but the movie does loose some focus here. The story shifts from being Dennis Twist centric to more involved with his wife and the motorcyclist. The rape scene changes the entire dynamic of the film and forces the Dennis character to give up what should have been a hero’s ending. After traveling with him and surviving the onslaught of the motorcyclist with him, it would have been nice to triumph with him. The ending is lessened even more by the revelation of why the motorcyclist did what he did, which we pretty much knew the entire time.
Rick Crawford as Dennis and Audrey Walker as Crystal, his wife, both do a wonderful job here. Rick plays Dennis as a simple everyman, the kind of person you see out and about on a random day in town, but upon closer inspection seems to have something troubling on his mind. Audrey adds realism to every scene she’s in, including the aforementioned rape scene.
Rage is a shining example of what low-budget do-it-yourself indie flicks should be, not to mention an entertaining thriller for any horror fan.
Director: Chris Witherspoon
Stars: Rick Crawford, Audrey Walker, Chris Witherspoon