Mr. Romero, the man whose zombies movies changed the face of the horror genre forever, has made quite a few lesser known movies over the years, from classics like Martin, to cult treats like Knightriders. Bruiser is a rather unique film for the director, in that it doesn’t feature many supernatural elements, and is low on the red sauce. It is a delightful satire, with bundles of black comedy and some respectable horror elements.
Let’s get it out of the way ASAP – this is not a Romero gore-fest. In fact, it’s barely a horror film. I’d be more inclined to class this as a black comedy, or at most a thriller. Nevertheless Romero fans should find a lot to enjoy here, just don’t expect decapitations or intestine-eating. The film follows an all American loser – good job, rich friends, beautiful wife, but it’s all emptiness and lies. His friends mock him and steal from him, his wife is cheating on him, and he isn’t respected at work. After everything collapses he wakes up to find himself wearing a plain white mask – naturally he decides that this new identity will allow him to seek revenge, and he works his way through the list of people who have wronged him. Be sure to expect plenty of Romero style satire on plastic, two-faced, selfish people, and some surprising cameos.
A large part of why I enjoyed this so much when I first watched it is down to how little I knew about the film before watching, and how little I was expecting from it meaning I was pleasantly surprised. The rest of my enjoyment comes from my appreciation of what Romero does with a low budget, crafting a surreal and beautiful film, and bringing in a cast of ‘I know that guy from somewhere’ types who are all superb. Special praise must go to Flemyng for a brilliant portrayal of loser to anti-hero, expressive even under a featureless mask. As the movie progresses it becomes more over-the-top, the whole thing having a Twin Peaks merged with Twilight Zone vibe. A few people have criticized the writing, but I quite enjoyed the dialogue – some great one-liners, and plenty of wit. If you can get your hands on this through a streaming service (like I did) then give it a try as it may be pricey to pick up the DVD if you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy it. It’s not as god as Romero’s original zombie trilogy, but it’s definitely one of his better movies, and one of the best black comedies of the decade.
Have you caught this little known gem by Romero? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!