Reviews | Written by Jorge Castillo 02/09/2020

TAILGATE

CERT: TBC / RELEASE DATE: TBC

It’s jarring how similar Tailgate is to the Russell Crowe vehicle Unhinged. The first act and main beats are basically the same (worth mentioning, Tailgate was produced earlier). But the Dutch film is better executed and has a tone that makes it more interesting than the standard American-psycho-on-the-road.

At the center of Tailgate is a picture perfect family that’s anything but. Hans (Jeroen Spitzenbergen, The Paradise Suite) is a chip-on-his-shoulder dude who doesn’t talk but bark orders to his put-upon wife (Anniek Pheifer) and bratty daughters. His alpha male act backfires when he tailgates the wrong guy, an aging serial killer (Willem de Wolf) who enjoys pumping weed poison into his victims.

The psychopath is like a taller, bloodthirsty Larry David: Those who break social conventions are his preferred target. Hans speeds, litters and, despite being given several outs, refuses to apologize. His comeuppance is unavoidable.

At least the top half is filled with unwavering tension. Director Lodewijk Crijns is uniquely competent at staging set pieces in every day traffic: You don’t need a high speed chase to hook the audience. Missing an exit is more than enough. Midway through the film, however, Tailgate loses direction: The characters’ actions stop making sense and there’s a lot of filler.

The one element that remains consistent throughout is a pitch black sense of humor. Even when scrambling, Tailgate resembles the Swedish comedy Force Majeure: Stripped of his bravado and toxic masculinity, Hans reveals himself a pathetic figure. There’s nothing like impending danger to dress down a bully.

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