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I mentioned this in my preview, but just to reiterate: the idea that someone could snap while I’m on the road and RAGE at me is honestly one of my greatest fears. In TAILGATE (Bumberkleef), Writer/Director Lodewijk Crijns flips that scenario by having the person who rages become the victim. 

We’re introduced to our villain, Ed (Willem de Wolf), right away, hunting down a bicyclist who broke a traffic rule. Other than being really TALL, Ed is just like, a normal looking guy who drives a white van … I mean, it’s an unmarked Pest Exterminator van, but sure, whatever. It’s harmless, right? Speaking in a calm voice, Ed entreats the fleeing bicycle rider to come and retrieve his phone, then runs him over, and finally employs some bug poison to finish him off. PEOPLE: THIS IS HOW YOU START A HORROR MOVIE. 

Switching gears, we meet Hans (Jeroen Spitzenberger) and his family: wife Diana (Anniek Pheifer), and two daughters, Milou and Robine. Hans is very impatient that they’re leaving later than expected for his father’s birthday dinner — he snaps at his wife and kids, keeps complaining about the time, and insists on going 50+ over the speed limit. So when he gets held up behind Ed’s van, Hans honks impatiently and zooms around him as soon as he gets a chance. 

Ed then confronts the family at a gas station convenience store and demands an apology, at which point Hans LOSES IT and starts screaming. Bad move, Hans! Ed starts following the family, Hans pulls over to confront him — and from that moment on, every minute of this film is a terrifying chase. I was absolutely on the edge of my seat THE ENTIRE TIME, and I loved the ending. 

It’s worth noting that Hans isn’t particularly likable, so at times you’re not sure who you should be rooting for. And this cast! So good. Spitzenberger is perfect as the posturing family man whose tough demeanor crumbles in the face of danger; De Wolf is downright chilling as serial killer Ed; Pheifer is SO believable and empathetic as a woman exasperated with her husband and trying to protect her kids; and both Roosmarijn van der Hoek and Liz Vergeer as the daughters really made me believe their terror (good screaming pipes!).  

A++ – a wicked thriller with a wry sense of humor. I highly recommend you check this one out at NBFF! Streaming now, or watch it in person July 17, 9:10pm at North Bend Theatre.

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