Written and directed by Lodewijk Crijns, Tailgate (Bumperkleef) is a Dutch horror/thriller movie about driving and how road rage can be deadly for your health.
Starring Jeroen Spitzenberger, Anniek Pheifer, Roosmarijn van der Hoek, Liz Vergeer, and Willem de Wolf. Tailgate is a thrilling watch for the most part. Heavy on suspense and tension, undone slightly by a drawn-out finale that enters unnecessary silly territory.
Hans, his wife Diana, and their two children are driving across country to see family but are running late. This has made Hans impatient, resulting in him getting into a spat with another driver named Ed. Who loathes rudeness on the road. So much so, that he follows the family to a gas station where he demands an apology from Hans.
Frustrated and prideful, Hans refuses and leaves with his family to continue their trip. However, this isn’t over, and the Hans is going to regret not letting the spate end when he had the chance.
Road trip movies with a psychotic person hunting down others because of a slight aren’t that common, but for good reason. It’s hard to make the mundane task of driving, frightening, and often the movie has no choice but to ramp up to such a degree to keep things interesting. Tailgate doesn’t quite follow that path, instead attempting to keep the story grounded and real as we travel with the family and experience their ever-increasing terror.
Only, when the final portion is reached, does that ramping up occur and it’s easily the movie’s worst part. Though, not so much as to ruin the extremely enjoyable journey to that point. Tailgate is a thrilling and tension-heavy experience. One that most drivers can relate to, either by being the cause of or victim of. Yes, this is an extreme example of road rage, but it doesn’t make it feel any less real.
Part of that comes from the family dynamic, the characters being entertaining to watch. The cast are great, not always the most likable, but at least sympathetic. Likewise, the villain oozes an assured confidence that makes him a frightening individual. Ed genuinely thinks he has the right to judge others and how they behave. Dethatched from the consequences of his actions, he dishes out his punishments with grim certainty. The best thing about the movie are the characters and the calibre of acting.
Once it gets going, Tailgate is a hyperactive, adrenaline rush that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It gets a little too silly at the end to be as believable as it once was, but it doesn’t stop it being a memorable entry in a niche sub-genre of horrors/thrillers.
The Final Score - 7/10