When I settled down to watch Rage, I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for. The disc was plain white, with the title neatly typed across it, and that was all I had to go on. Trashy low-budget thriller, I’d already decided. More fool me. If I’d known what was about to appear on the screen, I’d probably have watched it with the lights on. And on a night where I wasn’t home alone. Quite honestly, Rage is the type of horror film that die-hard fans of the genre need to see.

with Dennis (Crawford) is a struggling writer who’s come to town to put an end to his affair with a co-worker. Things are going smoothly until he cuts up a guy on a motorbike – a mysterious, silent and masked guy on a motorbike. The kind of guy who might, just possibly, fly into a murderous rage should you cross him. The masked speed-demon relentlessly pursues Dennis across town, trying to make his life as hellish as possible – and as the day goes on, more sinister motives becomes apparent. A psychological game of cat-and-mouse sees Dennis hunted through the town. And, hey, it turns out that biker is pretty handy with an electric chainsaw…

Tackling as it does the timeless themes of infidelity and retribution, the horrors of Rage are difficult to explain away easily. Who IS the masked pursuer? Okay, okay. He’s played by director and writer Witherspoon. But who is he in regards to the plot? Is he related to Dennis’ mistress in some way? How about to his wife? Or is he a symbolic representation of the destruction of the family unit? Oh yes, it’s deep stuff alright – but despite its weighty themes, Rage moves with the speed of a Ducati at the Grand Prix. Boring filler scenes? No thanks! All we really want to know is WHO the biker is and WHY he wants Dennis and, oh my goodness, WHY is he doing THAT to an ELDERLY PERSON!? Answers never come until right at the end, where the conclusion will blow your mind.

It’s strange that this one slipped under the radar; sure, it’s an independent flick, but it’s an independent flick which should have received monstrously excellent reviews. The acting is exceptional, with sterling performances from both Crawford and Witherspoon; the former even manages to squeeze sympathy from his audience, despite the fact that his character is an adulterous sleazebag with an extremely frustrating inability to take action. We want him to outwit the demonic biker from hell but, as is all too clear, Witherspoon is a huge fan of Hitchcock’s maxim: Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.

The viewer, like Dennis, is forced into a voyeuristic role, unable to take action or stop the madness unfolding around them. We watch the atrocities occur. We watch Dennis watch the atrocities occur. And, in the end, it becomes all too much to just look at. Stylish, intelligent, brutal and utterly tense, Rage will have you whipped up into a nervous wreck long before the credits roll. We’ll be keeping a close couple of eyes on Christopher Witherspoon, just as soon as we’ve worked up the courage to open them again…

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