As the witching season begins, we see a lot of more Stephen King, whether it is in the horror, thriller, or drama genres. This year, one of King’s novellas was adapted for the small screen, a thriller about a woman who goes after her attacker in order to seek revenge, rather than just calling for the cops because of course she does. Let’s end Stephen King month big!
Let’s take a look at Big Driver.
This movie starts off with a writer on her way back after a book reading being beaten and brutally raped by a man who feigns fixing her flat tire. He leaves her for dead in the drainage pipe along with several other bloody and mutilated bodies, but she manages to escape and get help. From there, the film proceeds on an I Spit On Your Grave revenge plot for the modern day. While she does so, she has vivid hallucinations talking with her GPS, characters, and even imaginary people because what you need in a rape-revenge gore fest is an old woman dispelling advice.
The rape scenes, I will not lie, are brutal to watch. Lifetime likes to be very graphic, or as graphic as they can be on TV, and honestly, as someone who is really affected by those scenes, they are pretty upsetting to sit through. If scenes like that are hard for you to see, I highly recommend you skip these scenes, maybe even the whole film. Honestly, there is a huge feeling of unease that falls over this movie that it never really shakes, which makes the movie feel realistic to some degree. It never feels like the main character gets past the anger phase, make it problematic in its own way.
Maria Bello as the writer Tess deserves a lot of credit for her acting. The shock, horror, disbelief, guilt, determination and obsession she expresses through the run of the film is absolutely heartbreaking and yet ingeniously subtle. Lifetime movies tend to be pretty cheesy but this one felt well put together, actual quality acting. Joan Jett makes her cameo, which is all right, nothing really to write home about. Every one else is suitable good, no real issues there except when the attacker gets shot he acts like a wild animal rather than a human being. Olympia Dukakis is a lot of fun as this old lady that lives inside Maria Bello’s head to dispense advice about killing people. It’s the only reason I didn’t find the character’s existence ridiculousness.
The plot is where the mess of this movie lies. There are plot holes everywhere you look. Why doesn’t Tess just call the police and have them arrest the man who brutally assaulted her? Why doesn’t she confirmed the book reading organizer was the mother of the rapist by looking up his name on Google (she does actually find his name but never looks him up)? Why does she have to use the GPS to track him down when she could just find his address like she did with his mother? Why didn’t the mother call Tess to make sure she was dead? Why don’t they actually drive to her house to make sure? Why does the cell phone matter at the old gas matter when clearing the history on her GPS doesn’t? Did she ever get medical care? All of these, and more, never answered!
Honestly, in spite of the well shot and well acted nature of this movie, the plot is flat as a pancake. The plot is uncomplicated, with a basic rape-revenge-get away with it plot that has very little intrigue and thrilling moments. It was predictable after the 30 minute mark, and not in the funny ironic way. I’m not sure how well written the original Stephen King story is but this is not a very good recommendation to go and pick it up.
Big Driver is an okay TV movie and a bad Stephen King story. It’s boring, flat, and the characters are weirdly written. Imaginary people feel out of place in a rape story, and there’s no amount of good writing can change that. Despite its good acting and well put together look and feel, there really isn’t much there beyond the upsetting, disturbing atmosphere that lingers over the movie. The Shining this is not. I would give it a soft pass, but only because Maria Bello’s acting is worth seeing at least once. Happy Halloween, everyone!
– Good acting.
– Good editing/cinematography.
– Plot holes everywhere.
– Poor, flat writing.
– Not very scary/exciting.