Recoil

Recoil is basically Stone Cold. That is, both Stone Cold, the Brian Bosworth movie (rogue muscle head law enforcement goes after a small town biker gang singlehandedly) and Stone Cold, the ex Bud-swilling WWE wrestler on whose brawny shoulders this one rests.

While The Boz (as the incomparably named Joe Huff) went undercover to infiltrate an evil motorcycle club, in Recoil Steve Austin’s Ryan Varrett does no such thing: he just takes out members of the MC wherever they happen to be.

And that wherever is beautiful British Columbia where many a shlocky action film has been lensed. In fact, the town of Hope in Recoil is a callback to the fictional town from Rambo: First Blood, lensed north east of Chilliwack, BC.

This biker gang here, stupidly monikered The Circle and with “anarchy” sewn into their patches, is lead by Salgado, the always leathery visaged Danny Trejo. Naturally, he was behind the hit against Varrett’s family in Texas. And the geometric gang is so brazen they murder the town’s only mechanic for being a rat, and hang him out to dry off the back of a tow truck. That’s not a savvy move when there are Harleys aplenty to service.

Recoil mostly bears all the hallmarks of a movie so cheesy, it should be served up on a tray with some heirloom tomatoes.

First off, there’s the uttering of the movie’s title in dialogue (but you’ll have to wait for the 90th minute of run time for that). Next, there’s the “we’ve got a problem,” in which the Sergeant-at-arms (or whatever requisite second-in-charge goon is around) informs the main baddie that they’re facing unforeseen issues with their plan, here in the form of a bald mesomorph who’s kneeing smelly bikers in the mug. And then, there’s the smug walking away from an explosion, in this case Varrett blowing up a meth lab and slowing strutting into the distance like he’s in The Magnificent Seven. Lastly, there’s a motel that’s not really a motel, but looks like a large bungalow with a “motel” sign stashed in one of the windows.

Vancouver native Serinda Swan (Graceland) and the ubiquitous Canadian fixture Lochlyn Munro (Freddy Vs Jason/Scary Movie/Night at the Roxbury) are along for the ride, portraying a near love interest and FBI agent respectively.

On the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we covered Stone Cold’s Hunt to Kill, another effort in which the Texas Rattlesnake is out for revenge in the lush mountains of Canada’s most picturesque province.

And like that one, Recoil is solid, if unspectacular, dumb butt-kicking fun, with even a couple of squared circle moves through in for good measure.

*** (out of 5)

[for more about Recoil, see a prolonged discussion of the film on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

Happy Death Day 2U

Another day, another sequel. Or in this case, another day lived over and over again a la Groundhog day, or a la everyone’s life during COVID. And of course, the Babyface Killer is back (quick aside: what a stupid moniker, as a babyface is someone who looks young, or in pro wrestling parlance, is a good guy).

Happy Death Day 2U is the still snappy 2019 sequel to Happy Death Day, and it expands the victim pool from only poor Tree from the first film, to a small forest. We get principles from the first Happy Death Day, now also having to go through what our poor protagonist suffered through – endless nightmares and being chased around campus. That means Asian stoner and first flick also-ran Ryan waking up from a nap in his ride, over and over and over again and walking in on Tree / Theresa and Carter. And there’s no way out for this dude, stuck inside a kind of Samuel Beckett play.

Ryan is an engineering student who’s built a ball, that’s not unlike the giant orb that interfaces with the extra dimension in Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond. And this engineering project, which is more metaphysical than physics, is what put everyone in different dimension, and susceptible to the time-suspending killer in a plastic mask terrorizing fictional Bayfield University.

How will Ryan and company escape both the killer and the time loop? That’s what this imaginative sequel lays out, fueled again by the effortless charm of the three leads, particularly Jessica Rothe.

There are callbacks to the poisoned cupcake, and without spoiling it, there are different character arcs to keep the audience guessing.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 this ain’t.

Kudos to director Christopher Landon for expanding his vision from the first one, though the sassier/funnier tone may not sit well with some horror heads who might’ve wanted the gore ante upped.

*** (out of 5)