You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bruiser

Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of "Bruiser" the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his "Living Dead" trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives him carte blanche to kill those who've exploited him without detection just can't sustain feature-length scrutiny, particularly given inevitable expectations. Pic won't make much impression theatrically, but the Romero name ensures muscular cable and vid life.

With:
Henry Creedlow ..... Jason Flemyng Miles Styles ..... Peter Stormare Rosemary Newley ..... Leslie Hope Janine Creedlow ..... Nina Garbiras James Larson ..... Andrew Tarbert Detective McCleary ..... Tom Atkins Detective Rakowski ..... Jonathan Higgins Tom Burtram ..... Jeff Monahan Number 9 ..... Marie V. Cruz

Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives him carte blanche to kill those who’ve exploited him without detection just can’t sustain feature-length scrutiny, particularly given inevitable expectations. Pic won’t make much impression theatrically, but the Romero name ensures muscular cable and vid life.

Wimp in question is Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng), who works for tyrannical, sexist publisher Miles Styles (Peter Stormare) in “the face biz” at some sort of fashion mag called Bruiser, the motto of which is “We make heat.” Perhaps because of macho pressure and money troubles, Henry’s day is punctuated by fantasizes of killing himself, punching his fellow commuters and smashing an ax into the head of his shrewish wife, Janine (Nina Garbiras).

Learning in short order that he’s being cuckolded by Miles and swindled by stockbroker chum James (Andrew Tarbert), Henry arises the next day with a white mask where his face was. Like a vengeful Marcel Marceau, he embarks on a quest for justice, sparing only Miles’ wife, Rosemary (Leslie Hope), whose artwork may have inspired the unexplained phenomenon.

There are flashes of the kinetic Romero wit early on, particularly in hard-boiled bickering between investigating officers McCleary (Tom Atkins) and Rakowski (Jonathan Higgins), windows and masks as visual motifs and a complex sequence involving a dead maid, small dog and a table saw. Yet pic loses punch in the midsection and takes a wrong turn just before the climax, when Romero succumbs to his career-long weakness for biker fetishism and forced physical humor. Worse, the expected and rooted-for comeuppance of Miles is fumbled badly, leaving pic with nowhere to go but home. And, as a pivotal plot point, the whole mask thing must be taken at, uh, face value, which is a double-edged sword at best.

Perfs are competent, with Flemyng holding a creditable American accent for most of the picture and Stormare stealing the show as the priapic, foul-mouthed, improbably accented Miles (pronounced, for some reason, “Meelo”).

Toronto-shot pic is workmanlike in all departments, featuring a mischievous score by Donald Rubinstein. Producer is former distrib Ben Barenholtz, whose acquisitions for Janus Films in the 1970s included Romero’s contempo vampire pic “Martin” — to which the psychological underpinnings of “Bruiser” clearly owe a debt.

Bruiser

U.S.-FRANCE

Production: A Le Studio Canal Plus presentation of a Ben Barenholtz production, in association with Romero-Grunwald Prods. (International sales: Le Studio Canal Plus, Paris.) Produced by Ben Barenholtz. Executive producer, Allen M. Shore. Co-producers, Peter Grunwald, Martin Walters, Ric Shore. Directed, written by George A. Romero.

Crew: Camera (color), Adam Swica; editor, Miume Jan Eramo; music, Donald Rubinstein, the Misfits; production designer, Sandra Kylbartas; costume designer, Alina Panova. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 13, 2000. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: Henry Creedlow ..... Jason Flemyng Miles Styles ..... Peter Stormare Rosemary Newley ..... Leslie Hope Janine Creedlow ..... Nina Garbiras James Larson ..... Andrew Tarbert Detective McCleary ..... Tom Atkins Detective Rakowski ..... Jonathan Higgins Tom Burtram ..... Jeff Monahan Number 9 ..... Marie V. Cruz

More Film

  • 'Asura' is China's most expensive flop

    China to Ban Movie Ticket Subsidies

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

  • Jack Ma, Alibaba

    China-U.S. Tariff Battle Spells Long-Term Pain for Entertainment

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

  • 'Ah Boys To Men: Frogmen"

    Visual Effects Firm Vividthree Heads for Singapore IPO

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

  • Cary Fukunaga Britain Maniac World Premiere,

    Cary Joji Fukunaga to Direct New James Bond Film

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

  • 'Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable'

    Film Review: 'Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable'

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

  • Danny Boyle

    Film News Roundup: Danny Boyle's Comedy Moved Forward

    Vet horror director George A. Romero brings to the first 40 minutes or so of “Bruiser” the provocative story, intuitive editing and sudden gore effects that made his “Living Dead” trilogy a cornerstone of the horror genre. Yet the tale of a milquetoast who wakes up one morning with a white, featureless face that gives […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content