Actors in need of comebacks can often lead to some really interesting stuff. John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler… Sure, these movies would have probably been made anyway, but these actors might not have been in them for so little money if they weren’t a tad on the desperate side. And those actors being in them makes them automatically a little more talked about, so they’re seen by a few more people. If it wasn’t for Kevin Bacon, I never would have heard of Cop Car. He’s a great actor who has done plenty of great stuff over the years, but not all that much lately. And while he was enough to make me intrigued by Cop Car, he’s just one of many things that make it so good.
Two young boys, Harrison (Hays Wellford) and Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) run away from home and are making their way across a desolate prairie. When they stumble across a seemingly abandoned police car, they start daring each other mess with it. Eventually, they find the keys and end up cruising down the highway, barely able to see over the steering wheel.
Cut to an hour or two earlier when we see how the car came to be abandoned. Sherriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon) parked the cruiser in the middle of nowhere because he had a body on the boot that needed burying. It’s while he’s off taking care of that business, that Harrison and Travis find it and begin their adventure. Obviously unable to admit to his Sherriff’s department colleagues that he’s lost his car or what he was doing when he lost it, Kretzer goes on a mission to retrieve his car, and its contents. When the boys open the boot, we see that the body being buried wasn’t the only incriminating evidence Kretzer was trying to dispose of.
When I saw the trailer for Cop Car, I was hoping for some really well executed, B-movie stuff. And that’s exactly what I got. The two kids are so fresh faced and innocent looking, that you know this movie is gonna exploit that to the maximum and have anything but fresh faced innocence going on around them. And from the second Kevin Bacon appears, it’s clear that he’s the kind of character who would have no problems putting a bullet in these kids if it meant saving his own ass.
Knowing that not a single character is safe is something that not nearly enough thrillers and horrors get right. Too often, you can tell exactly who will live and die, and usually the order in which they’ll meet their demise. When a movie makes it clear that no one is immune to the violence, it immediately puts you on edge on the way that a thriller or horror is supposed to. Between Cop Car and last year’s The Guest, this new wave of throwback, B-movie genre thrillers is a trend I can get behind.