Friday, 15 October 2010


Title: Bruiser
Director: George Romero
Released: 2000
Staring: Jason Flemyng, Peter Stormare, Leslie Hope, Nina Garbiras, Andrew Tarbet, Tom Atkins, Jonathan Higgins.

Rating: 4/5

Plot: Henry (Flemyng) is a downtrodden young publicity executive, whose bitchy wife (Garbiras) is having an affair with his boss (Stormare), while his suposive best friend (Tarbet) is stealing money from his investments. Waking up one morning to find his face replaced with a blank mask, he soon see’s it as a way to settle the score.

Review: For some reason George Romero is frequently mistaken for having only made zombie films, especially with the less educated horror fans and despite being the godfather of the modern zombie movie, he has throughout his career taken the occasional break from the shuffling hordes of the undead, to direct something equally interesting, such as his take on the vampire genre with “Martin” (1977) aswell as exploring the idea of a killer helper monkey in “Monkey Shines (1988) and “Bruiser” is another of these breaks, which despite going straight to DVD is still another notable entry on his directorial C.V.

From the outset it might seem that Henry lives in a similar world to that of the narrator from “Fight Club” (1999), but seeing how Henry lacks his own Tyler Durdan to lead the way like an anarchic pied piper, we are instead treated, for the first part of the film, to frequent bombardment with the violent fantasies, which serve as the outlet for his pent up frustration, which it’s safe to say he has plenty of, especially when he’s being screwed over from nearly every direction, yet just he carries on with his life as normal, coming across seemingly unaffected, even when his so called best friend is pretty much openly admitting to stealing from him and this is the kind of role that Flemyng plays so well, making me truly wonder if he could pull of a convincing psycho edge without coming off theatrically camp, which seems to be the downfall of so many actors not renown for playing darker roles, while especially not helped by the fact that he is playing a character with no facial expressions, yet somehow he manages to pull it off, even proving himself to be especially chilling when extracting his revenge on his wife, who earlier in the film unsuccessfully attempts to gain a rise out of Henry, by openly confessing to jacking off his boss (classy), only for Henry to come across like he was to blame for her cheating ways. Still Henry remains a surprisingly complex character, even if there numerous ideas no explored fully, especially the more used to his affliction he becomes, as he begins to see the potential of the situation and even on occasion seems to be heading towards turning into full blown psycho, as he seems to almost enjoy, perhaps alittle too much the stalking games he plays with his boss, while generally showing zero remorse for any of his murders.

Romero plays around here with some light psychology in places, using the faceless mask to represent how Henry truly feels, no matter how much he might try and deny it, having over the years of letting people walk over him, slowly become another face in the crowd with each murder slowly bringing colour to his blank face, as he slowly finds begins to find himself, though seeing how he goes suddenly from a blank faced killer to having his features restored in a split second, it does bring into question, how much weight you can truly put into this theory, especially seeing how the idea of a faceless killer is essentially the selling point, of a pretty much by the number revenge thriller.

Gore wise it is pretty light, with a lot left to the power of suggestion, something that has every tendency to turn out horrible, especially in the hands of a less skilled director, but the audience is not left feeling like they have been cheated here, especially as it never sets out to be that kind of film and even though there are a couple of gory murders, it is nothing compared to the carnage of his Dead saga. Still when Henry sets out on his personal vendetta, it does sadly turn the film into a pretty generic slasher route, especially when all his targets are so deserving of the grisly ends they meet, while Romero makes no real attempt to explain what happened to Henry, with the ending those pretty to look at feels like kind of a mess, especially seeing how those folks, seem kind unfazed by their host getting shot in the head by a killer laser, but at least it features a cameo appearance by the Misfits, which under my rating system meant that this film did receive an additional point for that alone.

The main meat of the soundtrack is comprised of Donald Rubinsteins jazz score, which has some nice haunting before being replaced for the finale by “The Misfits” thanks to them appearing as themselves, were they are the band at the finale party scene, with the band also performing two original songs “Bruiser” and “Fiend Without A Face”, which they wrote exclusively for this film, with Romero later directing their video for “Scream” as a trade for their appearance here, which is largely for the fun of it and not so that they can demonstrate any kind of acting chops.

“Bruiser” starts off seeming like a potentially deep film, but soon becomes another revenge thriller, once the initial shock wears out with Romero blowing most of the more standout moments in the early half of the film, before seemingly losing interest and just giving his audience a few choice kills, which makes it a fun film to kill an hour or so with, but when placed next to the stronger films on his C.V it is doubtful that most will give it more than a curious watch, even though both Flemyng and Stormare are entertaining as always, with Stormare in a particularly fine frenzied form, this film is best seen as cinematic junk food for the soul, so just don't go expecting anything more, even if the zombie godfather is in the directors chair and you won't be too disappointed.


  1. I'm glad someone else enjoyed this. It's not prime Romero, but I think it's pretty good in it's own right.

  2. Romero is like so many of the masters, in the way that he's linked to a particular aspect of the genre and like all none zombie films, this does feel like him just trying to do something different, if only for himself.
    Still the Misfits do make it worth a watch, aswell as the reason this film, got one point more than it would have got otherwise.

  3. I've always wanted to see this one. Hopefully I can fit it in before the end of 31 Days...

  4. Yeah that was pretty much the case for myself, since I read the review for it years ago, over on "Arrow in the head", so was glad to find it on "The Horror Channel" here in the UK, which is fast becoming one of my more favourite channels, especially for some of the more obsure movies they show, aswell as "Mortal Kombat: Conquest" which still remains a pretty underated series.


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