North Bend Film Fest 2021- Lodewijk Crijns’s ‘Tailgate’ Movie Review

From early myths of vengeful deities to Tales from the Crypt reminding us to keep our head on our shoulders, horror has always gone hand in hand with morality tales. Tailgate, originally titled Bumperkleef, from director Lodewijk Crijns, keeps this trend and history alive. Tailgate recently premiered at the North Bend Film Festival and was a rollercoaster of emotions!

Synopsis for Tailgate 

A road-raging man on a family road trip finds himself pursued and terrorized by the vengeful van driver he decided to tailgate.

Regarding the cast of the film; Willem de Wolf is quite intimidating as Ed, the vengeful driver and villain, not in the usual musclebound way you see in classic slashers, but he has a presence aided by his height that makes him terrifying at all times. He even has a unique and iconic costume/weapon combination, a must for any would-be slasher these days; an exterminator uniform reminiscent of The Crazies, and a highly potent exterminator spray gun with toxic and acidic properties.

Ed reminds Hans to obey the rules of the road!

On the other hand, Jeroen Spitzenberger’s protagonist, Hans, is rather hard to connect with, we aren’t given a palpable reason as to why his anger and his ego play a priority over his family’s safety even though de Wolf’s character seems to hand-deliver red flags left and right. By the second act, it gets farcical that he doesn’t just give in and apologize to Ed. Spitzenberger’s performance is good, but the writing (or perhaps something got lost in the translation) didn’t give enough context to make it anything more than silly to me.

The film, frankly, reminded me of a fair rollercoaster. At the start, it’s a bit of a buildup, then it gets exciting for a short peak, and then you’re just left in your seat while some kids behind you are still screaming until the safety harness lifts and you can leave. The inciting stuff with de Wolf’s Ed is pretty tense, as I mentioned earlier, his performance and presence is frightening, and his relentless pursuit of anyone who can’t obey traffic safety makes him like a Big Bad Wolf of the Dutch roadways. It certainly isn’t his fault the story doesn’t maintain its tension and steam.

Still from Tailgate
Still from Tailgate

Rather, as I said earlier, Spitzenberger’s Hans is the major cause of the issue. At a certain point, Hans makes and continues to make, decisions that seem to defy both character logic and external writing logic that allow the story to continue, but at a detriment to engagement and thrills. There is a decent portion of the film that seems to be dedicated to some looming marital discord between Hans and his wife, Diana (Anniek Phiefer), but once Ed enters the story, it seems largely pushed to the side, to serve as more of a means to complicate the proceedings than something naturally occurring between two people.

Tailgate was provided to us for review purposes via the North Bend Film Festival. In the US, Film Movement will release Tailgate theatrically, On-Demand and on Digital on July 30th, 2021.

About Chris Filipowicz

Born in small town Montana, Chris is a writer, artist, raccoon rehabilitator, and general supporter of disability rights and awareness. He loves film, especially horror, sci-fi, and animation; and has read comics since he was a child.

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