Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Bruiser (2000)
Review by Dan Taylor

For those of us that've been wondering where horror master George Romero has been since making THE DARK HALF (1993) this flick might answer the question.

For those of us that've been wondering what happened to the George Romero who made such classics as the DEAD flicks, MARTIN and THE CRAZIES, BRUISER only adds to the mystery.

Henry (Jason Flemyng) has problems. His boss is an asshole that's having an affair with Henry's shrew of a wife. After a day of being told that he's a nameless, faceless nobody that's exactly how he wakes up the next morning - with a permanent (?) white mask attached to his face. Empowered by his new identity, Henry takes revenge on those that've screwed him over.

I'm a big Romero fan, but will be the first to admit that he's never been the most subtle of filmmakers and tends to wear his subtexts on his sleeve. He also lives and dies on the strength of his actors, and this time there's no Ken Foree or John Amplas to save the day.

Those factors conspire against Romero in BRUISER, and the flick's inability to achieve major theatrical distribution becomes clearer and clearer as the plot lurches along. Naive and filled with gaping plot holes, BRUISER features performances that range from sleep-inducingly understated to wildly over-the-top. This, of course, excludes the ever-reliable Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) who shows up in yet another performance as a haggard and harried cop.

Watching BRUISER makes you wonder why it took Romero seven years to make a flick and why this was his choice. While he's taken strides to distance himself from the genre entries that made him a gorehound's best pal, it might be time for the director to reacquaint himself with his roots.

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