DIRECTED BY: Chris Witherspoon
FEATURING: Rick Crawford, Audrey Walker, Chris Witherspoon, Jo Black-Jacob, Richard Topping
PLOT: Dennis Twist (Crawford), an English professor/failed novelist who lives in the suburbs with
his wife Crystal (Walker) goes into Portland for a day to break off a clandestine relationship with his girlfriend, who has an ex-boyfriend just out of prison. A chance encounter with a motorcyclist quickly evolves into a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, and eventually escalates into rape and murder.
COMMENTS: Rage has gotten quite a bit of praise in various festivals over the year, and I’ll admit that it’s quite above average in the type of film that it is. That said, my own reaction to it is a bit less charitable—I feel that it would’ve worked much better as a half hour short, as far as twisting up the suspense level. At feature length, what is meant to be building suspense just turns into tedious padding, once the set-up is established. There’s also (in my opinion) a fatal misstep in tone at the climax, where a character’s rape that is meant to be ugly and uncomfortable is immediately followed up by a gory murder which is played for laughs. It sort of undermines the ending — which, to me, didn’t come off as shocking as it was meant to be.
Rage worked for a lot of people, many of whom threw out comparisons to Steven Spielberg’s Duel. I wouldn’t go quite THAT far—for me, it worked for about 30 minutes, but the remaining 55 were unnecessary.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“…really, really good—a tight, taut indie thriller with enough action, suspense and intrigue to fill three movies and an honest energy that makes you forgive its minibudget limitations… (The biker, incidentally, is essayed by Witherspoon himself. Think Darth Vader meets Ghost Rider meets the “Living Dead” from PSYCHOMANIA.)”–Chris Alexander, Fangoria (contemporaneous)