Sometimes the title says it all. Rage -an emotion beyond anger, beyond reason. They say some people actually see red if they are gripped in a strong enough rage. Perhaps they are right. In writer/director Christopher Witherspoon’s film “Rage” we see the film’s antagonist go over the edge to the point where only seeing blood will satisfy his anger.
“Rage” follows a day in the life of struggling writer Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford). After kissing his wife Crystal (Audrey Walker) goodbye, he heads into Portland to run a few errands on his day off. When he gets into Portland from his home in the suburbs he thinks he’s having a bit of luck when he finds a good parking space and slips into it as another car pulls out. Unfortunately, there is a motorcyclist (Christopher Witherspoon) waiting to pull into the spot that Dennis doesn’t see until he’s already pulled in. The cyclist, dressed from head to toe in black bike attire and a tinted helmet, honks at Chris, but the thirty-something writer shrugs the guy off.
This seemingly harmless slight, the kind that anyone might do during the course of a day and not think a thing about it, is the catalyst for what will become the worst day in Dennis’s life. The biker follows him and watches Dennis break off an affair he’s been having with a woman named Dana (Anna Lodej). As Dennis drives to his next meeting, the cyclist appears and taunts him at each traffic light. The harmless pranks quickly escalate to the point that he keys Dennis’s car.
Ironically, Dennis spends his lunch talking about turning his life around and professing his belief in the karmatic axiom of “what goes around, comes around”. Soon he sees how true that is as the biker sabotages his car, almost leading to an accident, and then continues following Dennis, beating and taunting him at every opportunity.
Dennis begins suspecting that the biker is actually Dana’s ex-boyfriend, recently released from prison on parole, but he can’t prove it. Finally he makes it home and has the unenviable task of explaining why he looks beaten up to his wife. Still he believes he is safe. He’s not. The biker breaks in and takes his revenge to even more savage levels not just against Dennis, but also his wife and any neighbors who interfere. One thing is for certain: even if he survives the mad cyclist’s rage, Dennis’s life will never be the same.
Christopher Witherspoon’s “Rage” is an homage to one of Steven Spielberg’s first films: “Duel”. In fact, Witherspoon goes so far as to reference the film at one point as Dennis hears some guys talking about the movie and you see the spark in the writer’s eye that suggests he sees the similarity. “Rage” is a well made thriller. Although Witherspoon’s filmmaking resume` is short, he shows genuine talent behind the camera, especially in bringing life to the biker, a character who never speaks and whose features are never shown. That said, the film does overuse some plot devices such as the red herring of who might be the cyclist and surprise dream sequences. Still “Rage” is a fun and entertaining film that is well made and well acted. So check out Christopher Witherspoon’s “Rage” and remember the next time you think about stealing that parking spot, you may not live to regret it.