Monday, March 1, 2010

Romero Week: Bruiser

George A. Romero is a hollowed name in the horror film industry.  He has 16 directing credits- not counting a television show and a 1974 television special on O.J. Simpson- to his name, but most of them are quite notable.  Okay, a few of them are really notable.  Besides his zombie films, he has put out a lot of other movies, but they never quite reached the same level of acclaim.  Let's do a little bit to fix that, shall we?  We start off with the most recent, non-zombie film put out by the Detroit native.  In the year 2000, he made this horror film about a man (character actor Jason Flemyng) who is constantly put down by society and all of those around him.  I wonder what he is going to do about that?  Let's find out in my review of...
The story begins with our character waking up in the morning and going about his daily activities.  We get some random weirdness involving the house apparently being in the middle of construction.  As such, there is a mounted table saw in the kitchen.  Wow, that's wacky...and pointless.  He goes to work for a modeling agency known as Bruiser- why, exactly?- and is berated by his over-the-top boss (Peter Stormare) for not thinking the way he does.  He has a common hatred of the man that is shared by that person's wife, which is probably going to synch up somehow.  On top of that, his stock broker is a complete asshole.  At a celebratory pool party on the same day, our hero is mocked for being plain and forgettable- a blank slate, as it were.  Not only that, but our hero's girlfriend is also having an affair behind his back.  Gee, I wonder who it could be with?  After about thirty minutes of this (movie time), the man wakes up to find one of the wife's expressionless masks on his face...and it won't come off!  When he hears his wife going off to have an affair, things are going to get ugly...
He follows her to his place of work to find her in the company of Mr. Stormare.  Actually, they are first discovered by the wife, which is somewhat of a mood-killer. While the boss pursues his wife out to her car- not even stopping to put on his pants- our hero goes to see his lady.  This does not end well, culminating in her dead body being hung out the window.  The police question the boss about this event, ignoring the fact that he was clearly outside when it happened.  The mask and murderer give our protagonist a look on life and he decides to go for the gusto.  Of course, he first has to try and paint the bleached-white mask up to resemble human skin.  Does it work?  Well, let's just say that he is probably the only child in history to fail out of drawing in Kindergarten.  He proceeds to go after most of the people in his life and get some much-needed revenge.  When he confronts his broker, he learns that the man has been stealing money from him and, after a nice monologue, kills him.  He talks to the wife of the boss and learns that she is not exactly hating his new outlook on life.  Of course, when he calls a radio show and confesses to the murders, she is a bit confused.  Join the group, lady!
 The climax of the film is all about this big fashion line party and getting his shot at the boss.  Before that takes place, however, he has to deal with his former best friend.  This Dwight Yoakam-looking fellow seems to sell him out, but actually resists the chance to.  He also turns down some loving from the hot Asian model they hired...for some reason.  Our hero breaks into the party and comes across the man while he is dressed up like the devil...or something.  Don't expect logical from a guy who flashes his balls during a business meeting, folks.  He gets lifted up in the air over the party in some sort of symbol, purgatory or something.  Yeah, I don't get it.  What I do get, however, is the sight of the man getting his nether regions burned by a laser that they have at the party...for some reason.  We get a weird twist however- it's not our hero that was doing all of this.  Evidently, he found a way to return his face to normal- don't look for logic in a Romero film- and the attacker was actually the wife.  To make matters more confusing, the lead detective (Romero alumni Tom Atkins) lets her go.  We get an epilogue involving our hero working a new job as a mail-room attendant with a blond ponytail.  One jerk demeans him one too many times and we get a falsh of the old 'blank face.'
This movie is good, but it's not quite sure what to do with itself.  The premise is a pretty unique one and the acting is sufficient to deliver the results.  Flemyng does a decent job of being a 'push-over' and Stormare is gleefully over-the-top as the boss.  Unfortunately, most of the supporting actors pale in the shadow of these two and are just sort of there.  Atkins does alright, but his role is a pretty nothing part.  Get used to that in your next Romero part, Tom.  The problem with this movie is that the premise is more juicy than the execution.  The killings are fairly pedestrian and Romero is clearly not sure what to do with the overall execution.  It's good, but fails to stand out as part of his film catalog.  Maybe this is why his next film- Land of the Dead- wasn't for another five years.
Up next, Romero adapts a famous Edgar Allen Poe tale alongside Dario Argento.  Unless they're doing some long-lost sex comedy tale of his, this has to be good!  Stay tuned...

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