Directed by: George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Starring: Jason Flemyng
THE PLOT: An ineffectual sales executive inflicts bloody retribution on those who have wronged him in this horror thriller from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ director George A. Romero. While working for his tyranical boss, Miles Styles (Peter Stormare), timid magazine executive Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng) can’t escape the murderous fantasies that run through his mind. After discovering that he’s being cheated on by his wife, Janine (Nina Garbiras), fleeced by his best friend and mocked by his co-workers, Henry wakes the next morning to find his face replaced by a white, faceless porcelain mask. Now, freed from the constraints of his previouspersonality and in his new anonymous guise, Henry calmly and methodically sets about violently dispatching all those who have mistreated him.
THE VERDICT: At the time of its release Bruiser was Romero’s first feature film in seven years, his last being the Stephen King adaption The Dark Half (1993). What the reasons were for this uncharastically long hiatus I don’t know but it would seem that his time on sabbatical did nothing to alter Romero’s pessimistic view of contemporary culture or his mordant sense of humour. Romero’s take on the ‘nice-guy pushed too far’ storyline makes an entertaining movie if not a wholly satisfying one. The first half of the movie begins promisingly enough as we’re introduced to the people in our protoganist’s life. We meet the wife, the best friend and the boss, characters who are representive of all that’s wrong with modern society; they are obssessed by money, ambition and sex. We also see Henry’s violent daydreams which reveal to us his repressed rage. So far so good. Unfortunately though once the levee breaks and the killing starts I found the movie started to slow down, when it should have been gaining momentum. This was were I was hoping the scares and gore would start, but unfortunately at no point throughout Bruiser does Romero ever really seem interested in trying to create any moments of real terror or suspense. This is not a scary movie at all. The night club scene climax, where are anti-hero finally confronts his morally bankrupt boss, is particularly disappointing in its lack of suspense and for such a anti-climactic finale it is frustratingly drawn out. One bright spot though, my favourite horror-punk band The Misfits (Michale Graves era) are on hand to make the last ten minutes a little more interesting.
Overall, I think Bruiser is a solid Romero film but it’s light on scares and the social commentary isn’t anything profound. 6/10