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[Review] Big Wheels [Twisted Dreams Film Festival]: Long-Festering Secrets Surface in This Fine Stephen King Adaptation

Alcohol, insults, and dredging up the past rarely mix well together, and they certainly don’t in the Canadian short film Big Wheels, director Andrew Simpson’s take on a Stephen King short story. This taut thriller is a nail-biter throughout thanks to nerve-wracking atmosphere and acting-clinic–level performances.

Bob (Andrew Bee) is a mechanic who is about to close up shop late at night. The very drunken duo of Rocky (Mark Rival) and Leo (Connor Dutchak) drive up, with Rocky demanding that Bob pass his car for inspection then and there. Rocky realizes who Bob is, and tells Leo about the mechanic’s past, when they were both high school students and a gruesome murder occurred.

The energy between Bee and Rival as their characters peel back ugly layers of the past is absolutely crackling, and the short is worth seeing just for their performances. Though both men are gifted with fine dialogue courtesy of screenwriter Devin Garabedian — who adapted the King short story “Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game” — their facial expressions during awkward moments and subtle turns of power dynamics are equally a blast to watch. Dutchak plays an almost passed-out drunk for much of his screen time, but gets to shine during a scene in which his character explains and shows a physical deformity caused by his work.

Simpson shows a strong eye for framing and Big Wheels boasts a super color palette, especially considering that it takes place in a garage at night. He builds tension marvelously and delivers a white-knuckler rich in suspense. The short is currently on the film festival circuit and well worth seeking out.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Big Wheels screened as part of Twisted Dreams Film Festival, which ran online as a virtual event from June 4–13, 2021.  

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.