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WRITTEN REVIEW: George Romero's Bruiser

In 2000, revered film maker George Romero both wrote and directed the film Bruiser. A film that I had absolutely NO idea existed until a decade later. A film that asks the hard hitting question, “Are you fuckin’ with me!?”. No seriously, that question was asked like, fourteen times thought the duration of the film. No, no, I didn’t count. Just call it an educated guess-stilation. To be honest fourteen was the number of times that I could remember throwing my hands in the air and rolling my eyes at that very line. But don’t let that be any indication of this films merit.

Bruiser was the first Romero work since the 1993 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half. A commercial flop, The Dark Half remains a cult classic and favorite to Romero and King fans alike, however it only earned back two thirds of it's budget at the box office. It’s no wonder it took Romero so long to find his way back into the director’s chair.

Henry Creedlow [Jason Flemyng] is an up and coming contributor at Bruiser, which is some kind of fashion magazine for women who have no self-respect and can hold their breath for along time [if you catch my drift]. His boss, Milo Styles [Peter Storemare], who you may remember from The Big Lebowski and Fargo, is an overbearing sleaze ball who is willing to step on anyone and everyone if it means getting what he wants. And by that I mean he flashes his balls at his employees during conference meetings. Poor, poor Henry.

Life is no better on the home front. His wife Janine [Nina Garbiras] belittles him, ignores him and has developed a “taste” for Milo among other men. Oh, but that’s not all! His long time friend and stock broker, James [Andrew Tarbet], has been stealing thousands from Henry behind his back.

I knew 4 years at Mime College would pay off in the end.

The stresses of life begins to take their toll on poor Henry. Every time he, or his ego, are dealt a blow from either his wife or his boss, he falls deeper into a world of fantasy in which he envisions murdering those who have slighted him. This fantasy world then becomes reality when Henry wakes to find a mask covering his face. Snow white and blank, his mask is a reflection of his personality, a reflection of how people see him and it can’t be taken off. Stripped of his identity and his sanity, he seeks bloody revenge.

There isn’t much that I can say negatively about Bruiser. The acting, and cinematography are great. The story is simple but believable, and the way that it’s told kept me engaged. Even the music is great. Slow jazz, reminiscent of a film noir classic. That is, until the final act, when we find our protagonist carrying out his last act of retribution at his company costume party where The Misfits are performing. AWESOME! Oh, and did I mention that Tom Atkins is in this? Well he is!

To be fair this film isn’t without it’s short comings, not many films are. To consider Bruiser a horror film is a stretch. One could make the argument that it isn’t scary, and they would be right. Bruiser is more of a revenge thriller. There is little blood and no gore. No stalking slasher, no monsters or demons. Considering the killer is our main character, it’s hard to feel anything toward him other than sympathy. On it’s own the mask isn’t that impressive either, however it is a great tool to illustrate Henry’s lacking personality and I think it accomplishes this well.

“Like you never stuck your dick up some other guys sandwich." - Milo Styles
Nope, not one of my own. This line was actually in the movie.

I‘m sure you are asking yourself, “Why should I care?”. And the answer is, “because It’s good”, surprisingly. There are scenes in Bruiser that are stylish and well, whether or not it was intentional, like the music, seem very film noir. It has something to do with a killer who can’t seem to help himself and the relationship he has with the detectives investigating him. I can’t help but be reminded of Lon Chaney in Phantom Of The Opera or Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs. Tragic men acting out in a way that only seems natural considering their circumstances.

It makes me wonder what was rolling around in Romero’s head when he wrote it. Was he burnt out from working with Steven King? Did he feel that his career lacked direction? After The Dark Half flopped, was he questioning his directorial talents? Was he the man searching for his Identity? Well to answer your questions, I don’t fuckin’ know! Bruiser is a pretty good movie and I recommend it. Now it’s time for a beer.


★ ★ ★





One quick thing before I forget. Bruiser makes use of the iconic "Howie" scream at 01:18:10. I LOLed a little when I heard it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZFR7aZ3oAc

- Cory

Mr. Banane said...

Hm, i find, that this Film is the worst Movie of Romero. I like his Films really, but Bruiser haven't the typical Romero Style and is boring. No, i don't like this Film. Of Course, the best Films of Romero are the Films before 1990 !!!!

(Sorry, my english isn't good)


@ Mr. Banane
You are correct, Bruiser isn't one of Romero's better films. I think he was running out of steam by the late 80's - early 90's, but all things considered, it isn't a bad movie. By all means, it isn't a horror movie and isn't like his other work, however I was surprised by it. - Cory