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  Tailgate I Won't Back Down
Year: 2019
Director: Lodewijk Crijns
Stars: Jeroen Spitzenberger, Anniek Pheifer, Roosmarijn van der Hoek, Liz Vergeer, Willem de Wolf, Truus te Selle, Hubert Fermin, Tim Linde, Peter Blankenstein, Stacey Matla
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ed (Willem de Wolf) has very specific ideas of what road etiquette should be, and when someone goes against that ethos, he is not a happy bunny. Take the cyclist who crossed him today, and is now fleeing for his life across an open field: Ed has his mobile phone, and invites him to take it back, but the cyclist is too terrified to approach. A minute later, he has been run over by the madman in his white van, and as he crawls away into a nearby stream, his aggressor is taking pest extermination equipment out of his vehicle and putting on his protective suit, pausing briefly to wave on a passing car whose driver does not hear the cyclist's cries for help. Within seconds, he has advanced on the injured victim and sprayed poison down his throat...

If you think about Dutch horror movies at all, you might think of Dick Maas as their most visible proponent, with his high concept shockers such as The Lift or Amsterdamned, but Tailgate proved there was more to the nation's genre flicks than his output, even if writer and director Lodewijk Crijns had obviously taken a few leaves out of Maas's book. Here, again, was a high concept work, but still recognisably Dutch thanks to a plethora of scenes shot around picturesque countryside locations and small suburbs and conurbations, not to mention the whole affair playing out in the Dutch language. But if they were being so faithful to their homeland, did this leave anything for the rest of the world to appreciate, or was this strictly parochial material?

In fact, whereas you might have anticipated from its premise a slavish copy of Hollywood's thrillers at heart, Crijns stayed true to his origins while generating some universal themes that were relevant to the twenty-first century as it was lived. It was just unfortunate that a higher profile movie with a big star had been released around the same time, Unhinged, where Russell Crowe was a similarly demented road rage exponent, and that was more likely to be seen than Tailgate. However, should you take a chance on the European item, you would be rewarded with a suitably tense, and surprisingly brief, horror-inflected suspense piece that put a typical, middle class family through their paces when dad Hans (Jeroen Spitzenberger) "tailgates" the insane Ed out on the highway, while taking his family to see his parents for the weekend.

There's a confrontation at a service station where neither man will back down and apologise (Ed deliberately hit the brakes and nearly caused Hans to crash), which revealed the real concern: toxic masculinity. We've all seen it on the internet, on social media, where two opponents try to bluff their way through an argument that doesn't mean anything like as much to anybody else as it does to the rivals, but escalates anyway, and watching this was akin to a movie version of how those spats went, only with more physical violence. Ed has his extermination kit that he breaks out to attack Hans with after he had nicked Hans's phone, and of course, once he has his phone he knows where his parents live and therefore the family's destination. If Hans had apologised, this might not have happened, except Ed is plainly spoiling for a fight so he can get self-righteous, justifying his sick games by dint of his belief he is in the right because of his moral crusade of bullying - you dread to think what he would be like on Twitter. These matters may turn off some, as would what happens at the end, but Tailgate was very exciting for the most part since you could see where everyone was going horribly wrong but were powerless to stop it. Uncomfortable, but superbly done for most of it. Music by Steve Willaert.

Aka: Bumperkleef

[Signature Entertainment presents Tailgate on Digital HD 26th October.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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