While the jumping off point for Rage is quite clearly Duel – in fact, in one scene there’s an on-the-nose reference to Spielberg’s lesser known first film – it also owes a huge amount to 1980s slasher movies.
The simple premise has suburban husband Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford) saying goodbye to his adoring wife, Crystal (Audrey Walker), before driving off into town to meet the woman he’s been seeing behind her back. In the process, he inadvertently hacks off a mysterious biker, who then plagues him the rest of the day. At first it’s just things like keying Dennis’ car, and it’s kind of fun to watch him squirm when he’s trying to think of an excuse to tell Crystal. But then the ‘games’ crank up a notch, with dangerous consequences. It all leads to a shocking finale back at Dennis’ home, which finds both he and his wife fighting for their lives.
In some respects the helmeted biker dressed in black wouldn’t look out of place in those slashers I mentioned, especially when he’s stalking his victims. But writer/director/cinematographer/editor/ sound editor/visual effects man (yes, he’s pretty hands on) Christopher R. Witherspoon adds another dimension by introducing just enough realism to make you think ‘what if?’. Be in the wrong place at the wrong time and maybe you might have a nut-job after you, too… There are also some really uncomfortable and all-too believable moments of true terror to balance out the more over the top bits.
It’s not a pleasant film to watch, but it is tense and gripping, particularly towards the downbeat denouement, where you come to realise that even if this couple defeat the killer, they still won’t live a happily ever after life.
A cautionary urban nightmare which is part Duel, part Halloween, but frighteningly plausible. 8/10