Bruiser & George Romero

Bruiser is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Bruiser (2000) – Rated R

“Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng) awakens to a nightmare world in which he has no face, features or identity. Stripped of everything he’s ever known, he sets out on a bloody rampage to destroy the people who’ve betrayed him, including his philandering wife (Nina Garbiras), his belittling boss (Peter Stormare) and his evil best friend (Andrew Tarbet). Fans of horror-punk rockers the Misfits will relish their role in the film’s gritty climax.”

George Romero gets a lot of credit for starting a horror subgenre with Night of the Living Dead and following it up with Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead. True there were clear precursors such as White Zombie (1932), The Last Man on Earth (1964), and Plague of the Zombies (1966) but Romero is certainly the man who popularized zombies.

His non-zombie films are not as well remembered but are fascinating. Knightriders (1981) is about an Arthurian troop of jousting motorcyclists. Martin (1976) is a realistic story about a man who thinks he is a vampire. The Crazies (1973) is about a government engineered virus that causes insanity and led directly to 28 Days Later and a remake.

Bruiser was Romero’s first film in seven years. He directed a video for the band, The Misfits in exchange for their appearance in Bruiser and some music for the film. Romero wrote and directed Bruiser.

Bruiser is a wonderful horror movie about identity, complacency, media and the callousness of society. It is very different. Other than some foreshadowing, it does not even seem like a horror movie until near the half hour mark.

Jason Flemyng, one of my favorite character actors, gets a rare leading role here as Henry Creedlow, a man who literally loses sight of who he is. No one respects him – in part because he does not respect himself. He lets everyone walk all over him – his wife, his boss, his co-workers, his acquaintances, even his dog. He contemplates committing suicide as an easier alternative to taking control of his life.

Peter Stormare does an excellent job of playing his disgusting boss, Milo Styles. A pre-24 Leslie Hope plays one of the few sympathetic characters, Rosemary Newley. Henry’s cheating wife Janine is played by Nina Garbiras. It is nice to see John Carpenter regular Tom Atkins (The Fog, Escape from New York) as Detective McCleary.

It is interesting to see a revenge tale retooled as a quest for identity. It has been said that all stories can be boiled down to the simple question, “Who am I?”. This one starts with that question and the answer is captivating.

People Watch: Peter Mensah, listed as ‘skinhead’, would go on to become the messenger who is so memorably killed by King Leonidas in 300 (“This is Sparta!”). Romero’s daughter Tina appears as Cleopatra.