With the uncertainty of the world, it should be very easy to understand that strangers can be under stress that we can’t comprehend. Moreso it is a period that should always be considered, where we need to treat others how we want to be treated lest we anger someone who is not as stable as we had assumed or hoped. Tailgate not only shows the direct repercussions of antagonizing someone willing to chase you down for retribution but how our lead’s pride not only gets him in this situation but puts himself and his loved ones consistently in more danger.

Hans is beginning his car ride to his parents already agitated and it is only getting worse by the minute. He is late because of his wife, his kids won’t stop fighting in the back seat, and now he is stuck behind this van that is going too slow. After Hans near rear-ends the van from tailgating it, he finally overtakes the car while giving the driver a dirty look. At the next rest stop, Hans leaves the bathroom to realize that the van’s driver is talking to his wife and kids, making mention of Han’s bad driving. The man demands an apology from Hans as it is the only way that he and his family are going to have a safe rest of their trip.

The power of the story of Tailgate is that as wild as the plot can seem at times, it is incredibly grounded in the horror of what it would be like to antagonize someone who has no qualms about killing you, especially someone who has killed before. While the exterminator garb that he wears feels like a horror attempt to give him a slasher vibe, it more so reads that this is how he became desensitized to death and how he feels about his victims, simply pests infesting decency.

What makes this film so captivating besides the cold, clinical, killer, is that this could have all be averted if it weren’t for the pride of Hans. Hans is introduced to the audience as an angry, petty man, who, in a revealing moment after the rest stop, says that the van man is probably a sad man with nothing but his pride. Twice in Tailgate the van man gives Hans the chance the apologize and just be sorry for being so stubborn but is instead mock and further antagonized by Hans. From there the more the situation gets direr, the more Hans makes decisions that only make things worse, driving the point home that he can’t be trusted to save his family.

There is the trope in the horror genre of the characters wandering into a situation that kills them, usually by ignoring a warning of the harbinger, but Tailgate in a change of pace actively has the character antagonize the unknown threat to start the horror. This is a film that takes the paranoia of wondering if that driver you flipped off on the road is following you and turns it into a frightening story of one moment of stubbornness sealing your fate forever.

 

8 out of 10

 

Tailgate 
RATING: NR
Runtime: 1 Hr. 26 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:

 

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About the Author

A huge horror fan with a fondness for 80s slashers. Can frequently be found at southern California horror screenings and events.
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