Welcome Horror fans! Old Man Feind just can’t quit Stephen King so it’s time to go on a ride with…
I had heard of this movie when it aired back in October on Lifetime Channel of all things which honestly didn’t give me much hope that’d it’d be any good but since I don’t have cable I wasn’t able to see it at the time. I still have an affinity for Stephen King since The Stand was the first “adult” book I ever read. As a young man I devoured King’s works and quite honestly couldn’t get enough. So anytime a new book or movie of his comes out I’m naturally curious though he’s been pretty hit and miss for me for a long time now. I loved the novel Under The Dome as it reminded me of The Stand meets The Tommyknockers but though I tried I absolutely hate what they did with the TV show. That is all pretty much neither here nor there but it is why I was willing to give Big Driver a chance.
My first thought as the movie started was “Oh my fucking Satan another main character that’s a writer!” and “Fuck Stephen can you write a character that isn’t a damn writer?” I know they say to write what you know but holy crap how many times has King done this? Seriously, someone look it up because I lost count and I’m too fucking lazy. So that irritated me a little but I kept watching mainly because I like the actress playing the lead role of Tess Thorne, Maria Bello. A History of Violence is a favorite (a movie few realize is an adaptation of a graphic novel), 2013’s Prisoners was pretty damn good as well and this is a return to King for Bello as she played Johnny Depp’s wife in Secret Window (Surprise! Another King adaptation about a writer. I know shocking!). It seems I’m procrastinating here but oh well, if you want a professional review you got the wrong website. But I guess I should move on…
Tess Thorne is the writer of a series of mystery novels about a group of female senior citizens called the Knitting Society or some such but I’ll get back to that. Now King as I’ve whined about has written about numerous writers but I noticed they also have something else in common, they’re all basically schizophrenic. In the case of Tess she hears and sees things that aren’t real. She’s a “writer” so she sees her characters supposedly but the hallucination both visual and auditory is a device King uses almost ad nauseum. Just an observation. So Tess gets invited to speak to a book club at a library several miles away from her home. Upon arriving she is greeted by Ramona (Ann Dowd) who is over the top friendly offering Tess a shortcut to avoid the long boring highway on her way back. Gee, I wonder if anything bad will happen? *you should be able to feel my eyes rolling here*
Obviously the shortcut turns into a nightmare as Tess runs over some debris in the road giving her a flat tire. Then along comes Big Driver or Lester (Will Harris) as she later discovers playing the role of Good Samaritan but this is a Stephen King story so you know he really isn’t. Tess notices some of the same road debris in the bed of Big Driver’s truck but a hundred pound woman has little hope against a giant like Big Driver. Tess is raped repeatedly then dragged to a culvert and left for dead. Obviously she isn’t and crawling out of the culvert discovers Big Driver’s many other victims as she makes her way out. Tess is beaten, broken and lost in the middle of nowhere.
She is able to make her way home where she starts to think about all that happened and why it happened. She is a mystery writer after all. The awesome Olympia Dukakis appears as Tess’ hallucination of Doreen, the main character in her mystery novels, to help solve the mystery. After a call from the small biker bar she had avoided after her escape informs her that her car is there she learns from the bartender (Joan Jett) that her rapist is known only as Big Driver, whereabouts unknown. The wheels of vigilante justice/revenge start spinning.
It doesn’t take Tess long to figure out who set her up and a little research gives her some insight into the why. Rather than further spoil this one I’ll leave Tess’ revenge to your viewing pleasure. Tess turns out to be extremely vicious when she needs to be getting her revenge then, of course, writing a book about it. I was very glad that the revenge itself didn’t turn out to be just something she was writing like some dream sequence because that would have been highly disappointing. Now keeping in mind that this was a made for TV (Lifetime) movie the violence is kept somewhat to a minimum but far more than I expected especially the rape scenes at the beginning which obviously aren’t super graphic but were much more than I expected. We do get a few bloody messes and a parting “shot” that will make most men cringe but made me laugh as it’s pretty much what I think should happen to any rapist scumbag. I have to say I have something a little more violent I’d like to write someday when I get to it but this was sufficient for being the TV movie that it was.
The story on the whole is a pretty straight forward revenge tale with the Stephen King staples of being about a writer who has an over active imagination that one would call borderline schizophrenic if not full blown schizophrenia. King seems to be working off the premise of “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” so we have those far too common elements in this story once again. There really isn’t anything wrong with this King formula other than it does get a little old when you’ve been a fan as long as I have. I sincerely hope King doesn’t hallucinate but they do say “write what you know” so perhaps he does or just wishes he did for some reason. In the end it wasn’t a bad tale or movie however tired some elements of it are. It is well acted pretty much across the board with Bello and Dukakis as good as they always are but there were no performances that stunk up the joint. It wasn’t quite gritty and gruesome enough for my taste but it was a made for TV movie and as such is pretty well above what you would expect to see in that medium. I was entertained for the duration so it did pass The Scribbler Clock Test. I would imagine women, in general, will enjoy this one more than men just for the revenge portion but if I was rating this on the ol’ 1-10 scale I’d give a 6 or maybe 6.5 so you know what that means, Big Driver just edges its way into being…
*This film is now available on DVD but is also being reshown tomorrow 3/11/15 on Lifetime at Noon (EST) so if you haven’t seen it you can set your DVR.
What do you think Scribbler fans? Were you entertained or was this just another tired idea from Stephen King for you? Let us know in the comments below.
Scribbler Movie Reviews
Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
Enjoy all we do here? Help us bring you even more with a small donation today.