ByJames McDonald, writer at
James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
James McDonald

Best friends Emily and Lesley go on a road trip to the desert. When Emily decides to get off the highway and take a “short cut,” they become the target of a relentless and psychotic trucker who forces them to play a deadly game of cat and mouse.

In 1971, Steven Spielberg directed the made-for-TV thriller “Duel,” in which star Dennis Weaver is chased and terrorized by the menacing and vindictive driver of an old tanker truck. The one original aspect that Spielberg introduced into his film, was that we never see the driver of the truck. No matter how much he menaces, chases, and tries to kill Dennis Weaver, we never once witness the truck operator’s identity, right up until the movie’s explosive finale. Director Michael Bafaro was undoubtedly inspired by Spielberg’s classic and has remade it as the low-budget, indie flick “Wrecker.”

We are introduced to Emily (Anna Hutchison) and Leslie (Andrea Whitburn), two young women who are on their way to see some friends on the California coast. While traveling through the desert, the girls decide to take a short cut down a stretch of road known as ‘Devils Pass.’ Before they know it, they happen upon a large tow-truck that is driving rather slow. Eventually, they manage to pass it but he catches up with them and overtakes them. This becomes the process for a few miles until the driver becomes maniacal and tries running them off the road.

When they manage to get enough of a head-start on the truck, they pull over at a small diner to regain their composure in an environment full of people. Shortly thereafter, they notice the truck sitting out in the parking lot, next to their car and try, unsuccessfully, to reveal the driver’s identity, in a sea of faces. Back on the road, the truck catches up with them and runs them off the road. After the two girls run away from the car, fearful for their lives, Emily trips and hits her head and knocks herself out. When she comes to, Leslie is gone.

Back on the road, Emily is determined to find and rescue her friend and when she finally discovers the truck, she goes from being afraid and scared to full-on retaliatory, vengeful mode, which culminates in both vehicles speeding towards each other in the ultimate game of chicken, where there can only be one winner.

“Wrecker” pretty much encompasses everything that made “Duel” so successful and director Michael Bafaro is to be commended for attempting such a feat. While I disagree with Hollywood unnecessarily remaking so many classics such as “Halloween,” “Point Break,” and the upcoming westerns “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Wild Bunch,” there are some older films that I feel could benefit from an update. In essence, it could bring more of today’s generation into contact with the original source material and while “Duel” might not have been at the top of my list, Mr. Bafaro does it a great service, while star Anna Hutchison perfectly instills determination and fortitude into the very heart of the movie.

“Wrecker” will be available on DVD January 5th

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