Lief Rucker (Bobby C. King, St. Agatha, Assimilate) is a trucker. He spends sixteen hours a day minimum driving America’s highways, hauling freight and killing women who remind him of his ex wife. Maggie (Cheyenna Lee) is making a documentary on truck drivers centered around Rucker. When she finds out about what he does in his spare time she decides to stick around and film that as well.
Truck driving serial killers are nothing new there’s Road Games and Midnight in the Switchgrass just off the top of my head. Neither are filmmakers or journalists documenting the work of serial killers. Again off the top of my head, Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and Strawberry Flavored Plastic. So what can Rucker bring to the table to set itself apart?
Rucker starts out with grainy footage of a throat slashing which, along with the fact the effects were done by Steve Johnson whose credits include Videodrome, Humanoids from the Deep and Men in Black, gave me hope I was in for a nasty, old school slasher. And we do get several killings, director Amy Hesketh (The Paranoia Tapes, Bluebeard) who also co-wrote the film with her husband Aaron Drane (Fear Clinic) isn’t afraid to show the killer in action.
Unfortunately the killings are all very similar, and while I know most serial killers stick to a certain style it starts to get a bit tedious after a while. Also, for reasons that escape me, some of the killings have the effects messed with via CGI and camera trickery. Why hire somebody like Steve Johnson and then mess with his work? This isn’t the 80s where you needed to hide the effects to keep the MPAA off your back. And in any case, Rucker is unrated.
Also, a lot of the scenes in between the killing are, to be blunt, boring as hell. The film tries to be creatively off kilter, showing Rucker crocheting and talking about how it relaxes him. Or having lunch with other drivers including his buddy Taco Tuesday, “My real name is Enis, you do the math.”, played by Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor. The cast’s other name performer, scream queen Jessica Cameron (Camp Twilight, Puppet Killer), turns up as one of the victims, Darlene #48 in the credits.
The film does have it’s good ideas, having the location of his kills make a smiley face did in fact make me smile. It’s also a better idea than anything in Smiley Face Killers. Making Rucker a bland, dull nobody that you wouldn’t give a second look to is a change from serial killers who might as well have “serial killer” tattooed on their forehead. Unfortunately Hesketh and Drane can’t bring him to life the way Richard Fire and John McNaughton did in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Though asking anyone to match that film’s intensity may be a bit much.
Rucker has its moments and a few interesting ideas but seems to be more interested in working in snippets of animation, funny stories and even a battle of the belches than developing them. It’s too bad, because done right the idea of a semi driving serial killer has so much potential. Real life killer Robert Ben Rhoades was convicted of three murders and suspected of torturing, raping, and killing more than fifty women between 1975 and 1990 while working as a long haul driver. The material is there, somebody just has to do it right.
Rucker is available on Digital platforms via Giant Pictures. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.