Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tailgate Review: A Scary Dutch Car Ride

Release date: July 30, 2021
Running time: 86 minutes
Written & Directed by: Lodewijk Crijns
Cast: Jeroen Spitzenberger, Anniek Pheifer, Willem de Wolf, Roosmarijn Van Der Hoek, Liz Vergeer, Truus Te Selle, Hubert Fermin

Hans, his wife and two young children, hit the highway on a trip to visit family. After getting stuck behind a slow-moving van, he recklessly starts to antagonize the eerily stoic driver, blaring the horn and riding his bumper. Little does he realize that he’s just crossed the wrong motorist – a deranged madman who sets out to teach Hans a lesson he’ll not soon forget. Lured into an alarming game of vehicular cat and mouse, a simple family road trip turns into a deadly obstacle course in this nerve-wracking, pulse-pounding thriller, an Official Selection at the Sitges Film Festival and FrightFest.

Tailgate bucks the trend of many horror movies by making a sinister event happen in broad daylight.  It starts with a horrific episode during the day and the rest of the movie takes place during the day.  Unlike most films, there are no dark scenes or tough to focus on attacks.  And the film has a good sense of dread without going overboard.  The movie takes a common setup, road rage and the fear that someone will go too far, and puts a veneer on it.  The villain is sinister but he stays calm and collected the entire time.  And he has a good, nonchalant way of doing this business that makes sure that he doesn't draw attention.  Overall, the setup is very good and the amount of unsettling horror is palatable.  This is made all the more scary by the inclusion of his family in the mix.  Seeing the fear from the kids really works to amplify the tense situations.  And the film has a great use of paranoia as everyone watches for this nondescript white van, and it is often hiding like a needle in a haystack.  

But what hurts this film is that the main dad is just not that sympathetic.  He gets angry and jumps to conclusions far too quickly at the start of the film.  He also does some reckless things that advance the story but don't make him a sympathetic figure.  And the film also has some odd statements that might be chalked up to cultural differences.  Some of the comments just didn't seem like they would fly in an American film.  I wonder fi the subtitles could have been tweaked for those, but then it would also make the film not be accurate with what they are saying.  And the story does not have many twists and turns, it is a pretty linear path from start to finish.  And through this all, the ending of the film is sort of a letdown; the destination in this movie is not as good as the overall drive.

Tailgate raises the road rage terror with a sinister villain and a harrowing situation that will have you looking in your rear view mirror on your next road trip.

Rent it.

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Tailgate is available on July 30, 2021 via Virtual Cinema, VOD, and digital platforms.  For showtimes, click here.

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