Bruiser (2000)

Bruiser is a comic tale of identity — possibly invisibility.  Our lead, Henry Creedlow, is a trusting fellow who lets himself to be treated like a doormat by everyone, including strangers,  his sleazy boss Milo (Peter Stormare), his wife Janine (Nina Garbiras), and his supposed best friend James (Andrew Tarbet). 

In reality, Henry is such a nobody in the eyes of the world that he wakes up day to find his face completely blank of character, white and with pin-holes for eyes. Lacking a visible identity, Henry goes crazy and proceeds to do what he has only ever dreamed — revenge on the world.

 

Bruiser almost qualifies for this category of films which deal with invisibility — Jason Flemyng plays a character who loses his face, and consequently his identity, and as is sometimes a theme in invisibility pictures — this lack of identity provides a freedom that only leads to violent crime — suggesting among other things that our visible identity per se keeps us social aware, and from the anarchic style of killing sprees that only George A. Romero can dream of.

The initial premise of a man waking up without a face is not unique to this picture.  There are not only the novels of Kobo Abe, but movies like the often overlooked head-trip Suture, or David Lynch's Lost Highway.

George A. Romero like Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi, may be considered an old master, but Bruiser is pretty low-key  and has a Phantom of the Opera quality to it. The character of Milo, the owner of the magazine Bruiser, is very much over the top and it is implausible in our politically correct climate of today that such a man would be tolerated, even by his own staff.

However, it is always an essential pleasure in horror, in identifying those characters that deserve to be killed painfully, and he is one such character.

Invisibility — anonymity — the loss of identity — all are old themes familiar to Bruiser.  The story archetype is old, and has found expression in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, as well as in one of the stories  of Dionysus.  One of his attributes was that exact of loss of identity. The actors in the plays performed for Dionysos were masked, the mask symbolized the submersion of their identity into that of another.

Considered flatly, such a story as Bruiser features a low-level clerk who is fairly average and almost without any kind of distinguishing identity, and it is this basic identity that is taken away from him and in the process, he becomes entangled in deeper and more impossible situations.  There are aspects in common with The Man With The X-Ray Eyes and even The Invisible Man.