Rage, a low budget indie homage featuring an unnamed man on a bike terrorizing an unassuming man, has its heart in the right place. It starts off well enough, but manages to deviate from what makes it seem interesting before quickly devolving into the overtly violent schlock, ripping the rug from underneath your feet and subjecting you to the same old thing we’ve seen a thousand times from low-budget indie horror.
Rage follows Dennis Twist and an unidentified Biker that wants to make his day a little less routine. Kissing his wife Crystal goodbye and heading into the city to break it off with his mistress, he comes across a man on a bike and an opaque helmet that, for reasons unknown to Dennis, is determined to make his day a living Hell. A game of proverbial cat-and-mouse ensues as the biker focuses all of his effort first on simply getting under Dennis’s skin. As the day presses on, it becomes clear that the biker has other plans for him.
The biggest problem with Rage lies entirely in its decision to abandon this approach that constitutes the first two-thirds of the film. If you can look past the questionable dialogue, the fact that every single speaking character has a unique accent, and the bizarre predilection for flashbacks, Witherspoon manages to construct something that, for the first 45 minutes or so, represents a solid little thriller. Starting with small, seemingly random acts of property damage and general terrorizing, the Biker’s antics quickly escalate into downright violent, homicidal tendencies. As the terror unfolds you begin to try and solve the mystery of who the masked biker is and why he or she is subjecting Dennis to such things. It’s a game, and you’re now a part of it.
Sadly, the film takes a home invasion turn that abandons the tension in favor of downright horrific and exceedingly bloody acts. The tense thriller is replaced with senseless violence that seems to come out of left field, and by the time the climax arrives, you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth; it’s not satisfying enough to reconcile the sudden and dramatic shift in tone from intriguing thriller to egregiously violent and disturbing home invasion movie.
Despite a strong first half, albeit one plagued with unnecessary dream sequences that scream laziness, Rage dwindles in its ability to separate itself from the rest of low budget, indie thrillers by quickly dropping into familiar territory. It’s an admirable effort from Witherspoon, though one that ultimately falls flat.