RUCKER movie poster | ©2022 Giant Pictures

RUCKER movie poster | ©2022 Giant Pictures

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Bobby C. King, Cheyenna Lee
Writers: Amy Hesketh & Aaron Drane
Director: Amy Hesketh
Distributor: Giant Pictures
Release Date: January 4, 2022 (VOD); February 4, 2022 (Blu-ray/DVD)

RUCKER is a combination slasher/trucker/character study. Directed by Amy Hesketh and written by Hesketh & Aaron Drane, RUCKER has intriguing ambitions (once we can tell what they are), but it lacks the nuance to fully pull them off.

After a brutal slasher opening, we find ourselves in the company of Leif Rucker (Bobby C. King). Rucker is a lifelong long-haul driver of a truck. He says he doesn’t like being called a “trucker,” though he soon accepts a cap with (T)RUCKER stitched on the front. He is talking to the camera.

The video camera belongs to Maggie (Cheyenna Lee), a dour-looking young woman who is making a documentary, sans crew, about Rucker. She interviews him about details of his life. Rucker is a folksy type who crochets his own blankets, and goes by the CB handle “Loverboy.”

We meet three of Rucker’s truck-driving friends, and listen to some of their stories as well. Urged by Rucker to take on a CB handle, Maggie chooses “Daddy’s Girl.”

We start to understand why the filmmakers decided to start out with a shock sequence, because it’s a slow slog through some overly-mundane (albeit well-acted) chat until we get to what makes Rucker unique.

Rucker kidnaps and kills women who remind him of his wife Darlene. Rucker swears he loves Darlene and wants her to take him back.

Odder still, Maggie videotapes the murders with no visible reaction, then helps Rucker dispose of the bodies. What the heck is going on here?

Let us stipulate that it’s easy to imagine worse versions of this. In fact, people who have watched a fair amount of serial killer movies have likely seen worse treatments of the same general concept.

That said, RUCKER fully sides with its misfit protagonists, without giving us much incentive to do the same. Animated sequences dramatizing letters from Rucker’s daughter have some punch, but not nearly enough to make us feel what we would need to in order for this to work.

We can muster some pity for lonely, conflicted Maggie and even a little for Rucker. There’s one good plot twist, but it’s followed by another “revelation” that has already been tipped. Ultimately, the psychology underlying the whole enterprise is too sketchy. The lack of any humanity in the victims doesn’t exactly help with either suspense or dramatic grounding.

King and Lee both give well-rounded, committed performances, and the supporting cast is also fine. Director/writer Hesketh also did the cleverly tacky production design.

RUCKER appears to want to be subversive and ironic. It’s peculiar enough to warrant a footnote in the subgenre, but it’s more engaging as a conversational topic than as a viewing experience.

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