‘Tailgate’ Review: Retribution for Road Rage

‘Tailgate’ Review: Retribution for Road Rage
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‘Tailgate’ Review: Retribution for Road Rage

‘Tailgate’ Review: Retribution for Road Rage

If you’ve ever been the victim of another driver’s road rage, you might sympathize with the killer stalking “Tailgate”, a Dutch thriller from writer-director Lodewijk Crijns. The Exterminator, played by Willem de Wolf, is a neat and oddly tall man who kicks off by murdering a cyclist. As the biker pleads for his life with an apology, the menacing character puts an exterminator spray gun into the biker’s mouth and pulls the trigger, poisoning him to death.

Still not getting the sympathy angle? Enter Hans (Jeroen Spitzenberger), a loathsome man who rushes his family for a weekend to his parents’ house. Hans goes after his wife, happily teaches his daughters that women are bad drivers, and more importantly rides the Exterminator’s bumper on a long stretch of highway. When Hans is confronted and an apology is demanded, he becomes even more rude, despite his wife’s reluctance. In response, The Exterminator works methodically to track down and eliminate Hans.

The killer is pretty horrific on its own, but it can be hard not to take root for him. It’s a predator-stalk-prey tale, and Hans has cockroach charisma. As The Exterminator’s van slowly moves down the road, it elicits the same tantalizing suspense as seeing a fin above water during “Jaws”. But here, the potential victim is a total jerk, not a skinny ingenuous or a dreaded fisherman. This well-choreographed hunt is scary, of course – especially given de Wolf’s terrifying performance and unconventional weapon choice – but it’s also a bit of fun.

Unclassified. In English and Dutch, with subtitles. Duration: 1 hour 26 minutes. In cinemas and on Film Movement.

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