North Bend 2021 Review: ‘Tailgate’ makes road rage terrifying

We’ve all been there. We’ve cut someone off, we’ve made unsafe turns, and we’ve tailgated. It’s rude, and we shouldn’t do it, and when we’re called out we probably shouldn’t be defensive about it.

Tailgate (Bumperkleef in the original dutch) follows an impatient father as he does exactly what the title suggests, and angers the wrong person in doing so. The result is, obviously, a deadly game of cat and mouse that will reveal the true character of those involved.

That true character, as you might imagine, is kind of pathetic. Hans (Jeroen Spitzenberger) is a man who is too defiant to apologize when confronted, even though it would set the right example for his young daughters. While the consequences in real life are obviously not being hunted by a mad man, once a mad man hunts him, it’s revealed that he is more than a little pathetic once you strip away the bravado. While I’m not sure the film is entirely deep enough to fully critique this aspect of toxic masculinity, it is present.

As with any film like this, the villain needs to be compelling, and Willem de Wolf (side note: excellent name) is just that. As the relentless man hunting down the family, his moral code entirely black and white and his choice of pesticide as a weapon, he is both terrifying and fun.

Tailgate has already been compared to Unhinged, the recent Russell Crowe film in which he pursues a woman who was rude to him on the road. It’s a fair comparison, but where that movie has over-the-top Hollywood flair, this one is a little more down to earth. Where Unhinged was unintentionally funny, Tailgate remains scary.

Tailgate is playing for US audiences as part of North Bend Film Festival through July 18th. There are no Canadian release details at this time.