Blu-ray Review: Fender Bender



Normally when you get a Blu-ray of a new film, the bonus features reserved off limits until the movie has been watched. People don’t want to spoil the fun by having the behind the scenes documentary flash the surprise ending. This is a good rule to live by unless you just bought the Blu-ray of Fender Bender. While this movie is certainly entertaining, the best way to experience the slasher action requires you click on a bonus feature. “Retro VHS” Cut of the Film allows you to view it as if it was really a something your cool uncle taped off Showtime back in 1988. The desaturation of the colors and the loss of resolution adds so much to original movie. The film feel authentic when pan and scanned. This isn’t a cute gimmick so much as making Fender Bender feel authentic to the era that gave us so many slasher films.

The movie opens with a woman (Cassidy Freeman) driving to her remote house. She’s on the phone telling a friend about just having a fender bender. She gets inside and needs to relax. She pours a hot bath and a glass of wine. Before she can unwind, a text arrives from the guy who hit her. He’s just wants to know how she’s doing after the hit. But then he mentions the tub and wine. Where is he? Turns out he’s extremely nearby. She’s surprised by the leather clad man with a leather bondage mask that resembles the front of a car. He charges her with a huge knife. The scene switches to Hillary (Makenzie Vega) sitting in her car and breaking up with her boyfriend (Harrison Sim). It’s not pretty and gets uglier after he departs. A driver not paying attention runs into her rear bumper. She’s a new driver so she goes beyond just swapping information. She uses her phones to take pictures of the damage and the other driver (Bill Sage). When she gets home, her parents aren’t happy at the car being dented. Even though it is not her fault and should be covered by insurance, punishment must be given out. Dad grounds her instead of letting her come along on the family vacation. This is his form of tough love. Little does he know that he’s forcing her to be alone when the Fender Bender Killer drives up to the house.

Fender Bender is a return to a time when a slasher film wasn’t cluttered up with too many characters, a loud soundtrack and a body count that’s deeper than the plot. This is a rather intimate affair that grows as people arrive at Hillary’s home in the middle of the night so it’s hard to tell which knock belongs to the killer. The lack of an overbearing soundtrack allows any bump in the night to seem like the last sound Hillary will experience. The last 20 minutes of the film works as things get bloody and messed up. Being a teenager in a really overwhelming situation means plenty of time for you to scream at the screen to give instructions. The driver is properly creepy as does his best to make sure nobody makes it to the body shop to jack up his insurance premiums. This is a slasher film that makes the right cuts.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks great, but you need to use the crappy “Retro VHS” transfer to fully appreciate the film. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0. The soundtracks is properly sparse so any little noise in the mix will make you think the Driver has crept into the room. The movie is subtitled.

Digital Version is downloadable to a variety of devices.

“Retro VHS” Cut of the Film (92 minutes) is the best way to experience Fender Bender.

Commentary Tracks include one with director Mark Pavia. He breaks down how he wanted to make a John Carpenter worthy slasher film. The producers’ track includes three producers inventing a drinking game to go along with the action. The rules are simple

Behind the Scenes Featurette (9:16) has the director admit that the source for the movie was birthed when he was in a car that was hit. He contemplated what’s the worst that could happen when you give a total stranger your information.

Slashback Vintage Trailer Reel (38:39) are dozens of slasher films offered by Scream Factory including Halloween 2 and The Burning. This needs to be featured on many of the other Blu-rays.

Trailer and TV Spot (2:07) set up how the simple act of exchanging information after an accident can lead to your worst nightmare.

Scream Factory presents Fender Bender. Directed by: Mark Pavia. Screenplay by: Mark Pavia. Starring: Bill Sage, Cassidy Freeman, Dre Davis, Harrison Sim, Kelsey Leos Montoya & Makenzie Vega. Running Time: 91 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: October 4, 2016.

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