Monday, March 9, 2009

Pick Me Up (2005)

This is another one from the Masters of Horror series, so at 58 minutes long the action starts right off the bat and doesn't let up until the credits roll. A bus breaks down in the middle of a desolate mountain town and the travelers are caught in the crosshairs of two serial killers. Unaware of one another, the two begin picking off the prey easily enough, but cross paths when they both set their murderous sights on a feisty woman scorned named Stacia.

The best part of this movie was the two serial killers. A truck driver that, at times, reminded me of Christopher Walken, and a hitchhiking cowboy who was a southern gentleman even while tearing pieces of flesh off of his victims! Both characters had their own flavor and it was wonderfully executed on the screen. It's hard to pick which one I liked better: the older, nonchalant truck driver from New York, or the young, gentleman who always had a smile and something clever to say?

The cowboy does a flawless job creating a completely unconventional serial killer character. Didn't they say Ted Bundy was a well mannered, good looking gentleman who used his charm to lure unsuspecting women into his hellish world? Well, meet the Pick Me Up version of Ted Bundy. On the other hand, the truck driver delivered the perfect role of a seamy older man who believes he is wise and therefore talks constantly and deeply even when it's just to the clerk ringing up his items at a convenience mart.

What's to say about the action of the movie other than they kill some people and it's moderately gory? It was a made-for-TV movie and, like a short story, you usually depend upon strong characters more than upon what happens to carry the film.

The ending had a nice twist. Shot from inside an ambulance, we find the truck driver on a stretcher, aided by a paramedic. After being thrown through the windshield of his truck, and brawling with the cowboy, it seems that the truck driver made it after all. Then, the camera pans out and we find that the cowboy is on an adjacent stretcher, as jovial as ever. The two start to bicker once again despite their current restraints. The paramedic walks over and for just a moment we are persuaded that the two killers are going to team up, but it turns out the paramedics are serial killers too! Finally, one more little twist: The camera pans up and we find that Stacia is still alive, securely strapped into an overhead compartment of the ambulance.

Bravo for this made-for-TV movie. Aside for the slightly bad acting in the first ten minutes, the film is off and running thereafter.

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