The Man in the Garage (2008) – By Nic Brown

 A garage can be many things. For most people it is a place where you keep a car, and work on projects. A garage may also be like a storage shed where all the things you don’t want in the house are kept. In Robert Luke’s new indy film Man in the Garage it becomes something much more sinister.

Jack (Nathan Gray) and Mary (Maggie May) are getting settled into their new home, inherited from Jack’s father. Along with the house they got all the contents of the two car garage, which is piled from floor to ceiling with the accumulated miscellaneous junk of Jack’s father’s entire life. When their young daughter, Jasmine (Sera Rachel), keeps mentioning her friend who lives in the garage, the couple put it down to being an imaginary friend and dismiss it. However, there is a secret hiding amongst the piles boxes; there really is a man living in the garage.

Jasmine has made friends with the strange man, who ventures into the house when it is empty and quietly watches the family. He doesn’t speak, and his actions are often nonsensical, but harmless… at first. It soon becomes apparent that the man in the garage has his own twisted sense of what is right and wrong as he begins killing people who come into the home, including the couple’s babysitter, her boyfriend, and a burglar. The family remains none the wiser of his actions and seems oddly safe from them, until their bickering over common marital issues like money begin to upset the man in the garage as he sees how they make little Jasmine unhappy. Will Jack and Mary be able to save themselves and their daughter when the man in the garage decides it is time to make his presence known?

Robert Luke’s Man In the Garage is a pretty straight forward slasher flick The film’s hook is the fact that this insane homeless man can live undetected in the family’s junk filled garage for so long. It is unsettling to watch as he spies on their lives and develops his strange friendship with their daughter. This aspect of the film is one of the things that sets Man In the Garage apart from the numerous indie slasher films that appear each year. Sera Rachel gives a creepy performance as the daughter who knows the man is there, but doesn’t see his strange actions as a threat. In fact, when the man assaults and restrains her mother, the young girl only watches rather impassively as he “plays” with Mommy. The actual man in the garage (played by an equally ambiguously named actor called “Disco”) is also fun to watch. He doesn’t speak, but he does make a strange yell/moan noise that sounds like a pterodactyl from The People That Time Forgot, that is unsettling to listen to and adds to his menace. Ultimately, Man In the Garage tries to be more than a horror flick as it reflects the problems many of us have in our family lives. Although these conflicts usually don’t result in the dire consequences shown in the film, they can lead to the destruction of the family life just as assuredly. The film does have its problems. Believability of the family’s continuing ignorance of what is going on becomes an issue. Also, an issue is the varying level of skill displayed by the actors. At some points early in the film, the dialogue between characters feels forced and unnatural. This problem does smooth itself out as the film progresses and the actors grow more comfortable in their roles. That said, Man in the Garage is a pretty entertaining film that, while not re-inventing the slasher genre, does deliver the gore and suspense that fans look for. So before you start that spring cleaning project on your own garage, check out Robert Luke’s Man in the Garage. You may decide to put that chore off a while longer.