Director: Terry Ingram
Starring: Nicole Eggert, Greg Evigan, Brenna O’Brien, Winston Rekert, Chad Willett
Fast, furious and fatal!
J.J. Sawyer and Cutter were childhood friends who turned into bitter rivals after they ended up being interested in the blond hottie Tammy. They took out their rivalry on the Nascar racing field, but one day something goes wrong and Cutter dies during a tournament.
Fast forward sixteen years and J.J. are now a truck driver. While passing by his old hometown, his truck starts to get some trouble and he brings it over to the local garage that are owned by Cutter’s brother, who is found the very next day decapitated with his head resting inside Cutter’s old racing car. After more violent occurrences with the racing car, J.J. starts to believe that the dead spirit of Cutter is possessing the racing car and it is out for revenge for what happened sixteen years ago.
Ever heard of motorphobia? It’s the fear of automobiles and it’s not something you hear of very often. Why? Because even though I’m sure the phobia itself is horrible to have, most people won’t find anything scary about a car or other vehicles. Even the mixture of a Stephen King story and John Carpenter directing didn’t turn Christine into a great film and even though I have seen The Car and Maximum Overdrive in my younger days, I would hardly call any of them scary.
So what they did wisely on this Syfy movie is to make the racing car secondary to a story about relationships and family. Going into a film called Phantom Racer from Syfy didn’t build up a lot of expectations for me, but surprisingly enough it wasn’t painful to watch. It has the same easy watching experience that the average TV show has, not requiring you to use your mind and just have some noise in front of you to keep you occupied for ninety minutes.
There is even some gore in this one, although terrible done. Greg Evigan plays our main hero J.J., a typical truck driving good guy. He is likeable and good enough for this part and the same can be said about the previous Baywatch babe Nicole Eggert as Tammy. I’m not sure what sort of food she eats, but I think she looks even better here than she did back in the early 90’s in the red lifeguard suit.
Brenna O’Brien plays Tammy’s teenage daughter Jessie, a character that I’m gonna guess was supposed to be a difficult thirteen year old. I can see why they would want to have O’Brien in the film since she is an absolute beauty that I hope to see in more films in the future, but her characters actions does become a little childish when you see this still young, but adult girl acting them out. They should either have changed the age of the Jessie character or made her act more mature. O’Brien does handle the part well enough to make it not stand out so much though and she is better than most actresses you see in Syfy films.
The direction is handled well by Terry Ingram. The pacing is good and the mood is relaxed. Frankly, there is only so much you can do with a silly script that has awful dialogue and behaviour by some of the characters. Ingram seems to be very active with films like this lately and can brag about also having Ice Road Terror and the upcoming Chupacabra vs. the Alamo on his ever-growing resume.
Phantom Racer is of course not a great or even good movie. It’s about a killer car after all and it is made for being shown on the Syfy channel. It is however not as awful as you might have expected going into it since it’s saved by a relaxed mood and actors who are easy to watch.