Bruiser (2001)
Directed by George Romero

Starring Jason Flemyng Leslie Hope Nina Garbiras Peter Stormare

In 2001, everyone was hoping and praying that George Romero would direct the movie of the videogame “Resident Evil.” Instead he was bumped from that project and opted to direct this, a pretty decent direct-to-video film that’s more than a little reminiscent to “Monkey Shines” and “The Dark Half.”

Flemyng plays a whimpy magazine executive whose arrogant boss is screwing his wife. One night, after going to party where a plaster mask is made from his face, he’s confronted by his wife who informs him she’s sick of being married to a whimp. She takes off, pushing him to the edge of sanity.

He wakes up without a face, looking like someone with a plastic mask, but one that is literally grafted to his face. He then goes on a killing spree, offing his wife; a friend who bilked him out of a fortune; and anyone else that pisses him off. Flemyng is a charismatic actor and carries the role well -- but in the end Romero crafted a story that doesn’t add up to very much, and all the good acting in the world isn’t going to save it.

Romero has been enamored with making movies about the dark hateful side of ordinary men: “Dark Half” and “Monkey Shines” both tackled to the subject, but with much greater success than this. In the end, Flemyng’s character isn’t a very sympathetic one because he’s willfully killing people. In both “Dark Half” and “Monkey Shines,” the protagonist’s hatreds are leading to deaths, but they’re not consciously going out and killing people.

Again, “Bruiser” isn’t a bad film. It’s decent, worth catching if you like Romero. But it’s not as good as “Dark Half.” It also boasts precious little in the special effects department. But it does have Tom Atkins -- star of Carpenter’s “The Fog,” “Halloween III” and other fear films -- as a cop. Here’s hoping that Romero teams up with Tom Savini sometime soon and gives the people what they really want: zombies.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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