I’m personally a fan of revenge thrillers, and am quite surprised to see Stephen King of all people concoct a rape revenge thriller. Out of the sub-genre, they’re the most notorious of the sub-sub-genres. “Big Driver” is an often toothless and ridiculous rape revenge thriller about a writer who may possibly be going mad after being viciously and repeatedly raped in a road side gas station by a hulking driver. He’s known as “Big Driver,” and is a very menacing and horrific villain. That is until the narrative unfolds and then he becomes a cartoon. It’s not enough that he may possibly be a trucker that had an impulse to rape and victimize a gorgeous woman on an abandoned road.
And it’s not enough that perhaps he has snared his share of victims in the past. No, King has to keep piling on absurd twists and turns with our villain Big Driver, while pretending to say something about writers. Truly, the writers’ psyche can be a maddening and unusual place, but for Tess Thorne, she’s a woman who’s been victimized one too many times and has an odd selection of friends. She has her characters from her book series about knitting elderly women solving crimes, her GPS named Tom (the only trustworthy man in her life), a cat named Fritz, and a neighbor who may or may not be romantically involved with Thorne.
Nothing is ever really confirmed for the audience, as every element of the plot is thrown up in to the air and never really resolved. At one point it’s suggested the stylish revenge plot is all in Tess’s mind but it’s never confirmed. Then we’re told that her confrontation with Big Driver was planned. “That’s a little far fetched,” Tess thinks aloud. But lo and behold, it’s not too far fetched the primary narrative itself. And by god King goes all the way, with a dramatic confrontation, and an abrupt final scene that may or may not be one big imaginary sequence in Tess’ slowly unraveling mind. What is the horrendous life Tess had? Why does Tess come across another victimized woman? What insight does this moment lend her exactly?
Is Tom the imagining of an ex-boyfriend or just a creation of Tess’s to compensate for her lack of romance? If Tess really is so closed off to everyone, why does she live in such an open suburban neighborhood? And what of the loose ends like Tess taking a limo home after being raped? No one really reported her injuries? I’m not sure if “Big Driver” is supposed to be a meta-thriller about a writer who enacts revenge through means that seem almost too good to be realistic, and the almost ridiculous sequence of events are intentionally silly, but “Big Driver” is too haphazardly written and sloppily directed to really answer that for the audience. In the end, it’s a terrible thriller with more head scratching questions than answers.