It’s been 19 years since Mark Pavia directed a movie and that was the Stephen King adaptation The Night Flier, a movie I have yet to see (I know, for shame!). I’m not entirely sure why he didn’t direct anything up until this point, but it’s nice to see him back in the director’s seat with his latest release Fender Bender. Distributed by Scream Factory, Fender Bender is a throwback slasher flick with a kickass score. It’s got plenty of violence, suspense and a few twists up its sleeve to please plenty of fans, but unfortunately, it’s also got an ending that nearly falls flat on its face due to some stupid cliche character choices. However, an ending doesn’t always make a film, so there is still plenty of stuff to like in this movie. Read on to see what…
In a small New Mexico town, a 17-year-old high school girl who just got her driver’s license gets into her first fender bender, innocently exchanging her personal information with an apologetic stranger. Later that stormy night, she is joined in her desolate suburban home by a couple of her school friends who try their best to make a night out of it, only to be visited by the stranger she so willingly handed all of her information to — a terrifying and bizarre serial killer who stalks the country’s endless miles of roads and streets with his old rusty car, hungrily searching for his next unsuspecting victim.
When you get in an accident, you are meant to exchange your insurance information, name and address and that is actually what Hilary (Makenzie Vega) does after getting rear ended at a stop sign. Hilary is worried her parents are going to flip out, but the driver (Bill Sage in a wonderfully creepy role) appears to be nice, albeit a bit creepy and says there is nothing to worry about as it’s his fault. They exchange information and they go their separate ways, or so Hilary thinks. You see, Bill Sage, known only as The Driver, is a sadistic psychopath who targets young girls by getting into a fender bender with them and obtaining their information. He then proceeds to stalk and hunt them down at their own home. It seems to be working great for him, as he has a rather large bloody collection of drivers licences decorating his car.
The Driver thinks he’s found his next perfect victim in Hilary, but he might actually have a tough time as she isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Hilary comes off as a meek, little girl at first, but after sticking up for herself against her drunk boyfriend, you know she has some fight in her and fight she does. Much like the outstanding You’re Next, Hilary assesses the deadly situation she is put into and decides it’s better to fight this masked intruder instead of acting like a scared little girl.
This is where Fender Bender excels. It flips the normal roles of a typical horror film and girl in distress and tries to do something a bit different. However, the different tactic is thrown out the window near the end as Hilary makes a stupid mistake after stupid mistake, resulting in an ending the hurts the overall tone of the flick. I did like the some of the ending, but the cliche choices should have been rethought. I can think of several different ways the movie could have ended with the same result, but still not insult the intelligence of both the characters and audience.
Even with a rocky ending, Fender Bender still manages to rise above the mediocrity of what you would normally think a made for TV movie would be (Fender Bender was broadcasted on the Chiller Network). It’s got the blood, the suspense, and a kickass synth-heavy 80’s throwback soundtrack that should have plenty of fans grinning. I think Fender Bender is going to surprise a lot of people and I would absolutely be game for a sequel. Scream Factory should be very proud of their first original film.