Fender Bender Blu-ray
Director: Mark Pavia
Screenwriter: Mark Pavia
Cast: Makenzie Vega, Cassidy Freeman, Dre Davis, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Bill Sage
Distributor: Scream Factory
Unrated | 91 Minutes
Release Date: October 4, 2016
“A crash course in terror.”
Written and directed by Mark Pavia (Stephen King’s The Night Flier), Fender Bender is a full-throttle throwback to ’80s slasher flicks. The movie begins with a woman (Cassidy Freeman, Longmire) on the phone, chatting with a friend about the fender bender she got into earlier in the day. She pours a hot bath (and a glass of wine) and tries to unwind, but her relaxing night in is interrupted by a text from the man who rear-ended her.
“Enjoy the bath,” the message reads. Turns out the driver is a deranged killer, stalking women using the personal information they provide during traffic accidents. Dressed in black leather and a bondage mask, the driver stalks the woman through the house before stabbing her to death with a custom-made switchblade with a car door handle – an extension of the black muscle car he uses to pursue his victims.
A few days later in New Mexico, 17-year-old Hilary Makenzie Vega (Saw, Sin City) is rear-ended at a stop sign by a mysterious man (Bill Sage, American Psycho). Like any good driver, Hilary uses her phone to take pictures of the damage and exchanges her contact info with the remorseful motorist. Little does she know she’s become the next victim of a madman with a serious case of road rage. With her parents away on vacation, Hilary invites some friends over, unaware that the driver is lurking outside her suburban home.
Fender Bender takes us back to a time when you would go to the local mom-and-pop video store and browse the shelves in search of an unheard of horror movie that sold you with its kick-ass box art. Back then, movies were on a level playing field – the cover art, along with the synopsis on the back of the box, was enough to make you take a chance on something you were otherwise clueless about. Fender Bender feels like one of those titles, a slasher movie with a masked, knife-wielding maniac on the cover and a cool premise, made solely to entertain.
I had a lot of fun with Pavia’s film, and I think given the opportunity, The Driver could become a new horror icon – an amalgam of Death Proof‘s Stuntman Mike and Halloween‘s Michael Myers. What really makes Fender Bender worth checking out is the “Retro VHS” cut included on the Blu-ray release. This version allows you to experience the movie as if it were taped off premium cable back in ’80s. Pan and scanned with tracking lines and VHS-quality resolution, this version feels authentic to the era of slasher flicks Pavia is paying homage to.
As for the Blu-ray, the film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio tracks. Regarding bonus materials, this Fender Bender release has some really cool features. In addition to the “Retro VHS” cut, trailers, and TV spots, there are two commentary tracks: one with director Mark Pavia and one with producers Gus Krieger, Joshua Bunting, and Carl Lucas, in which they develop a drinking game to play while watching the film. There’s also a behind-the-scenes featurette (9:16) where Pavia discusses the origins of the film and the personal incident that inspired the story. Perhaps one of the coolest features is the Slashback Vintage Trailer Reel (38:39), which includes trailers of slasher films offered by Scream Factory, including Halloween II, Motel Hell, and Slumber Party Massacre.
Fender Bender is the first film co-produced with ChillerTV and Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s sub-division of forgotten horror and science-fiction films. It premiered on ChillerTV June 3, 2016, and makes its debut on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital platforms on October 4. If you’re looking for a slasher steeped in nostalgia, check out Pavia’s film, now available at Amazon. If you’re interested in more information about Fender Bender, I would highly recommend the episode of Blumhouse’s Shock Waves podcast featuring Pavia. You can listen here.