Alicia Silverstoney young Claire ends her shift at the Starfire Express Mini-Mart and walks down the highway to a guard rail where she waits for her ride. She sees her boyfriend Jimmy roll up in his truck, stands to greet him, and naturally chew him out for being late even though she just got here herself.
She gives him the universal sign WTF sign language with her arms. “God Jimmy, you’re late again! I told you I got class!” She sees it is not Jimmy driving and says, “Who are you?”
He creepily responds, “My friends call me Duke. Jimmy couldn’t make it. He sent me to pick you up.” This couldn’t be more suspicious if it were happening on MLK Blvd, so she pulls out her phone — no signal. True to her look-alike, she cluelessly gets in the car with the stranger, despite the additional warning flag that he bears a strong resemblance to Bill Paxton.
He must be a better actor than Bill Paxton, though, because his ruse has worked. He clearly is no friend of Jimmy; or of Claire, for that matter. He tells her she is the prettiest girl he’s ever seen, confirming his superior acting skillz, then he gets a little touchy-feely, and when she objects, calls her a cunt.
Claire stupidly directs him to her house rather than say, a police station, or some public area; like a police station. He does let her out with no struggle, though. She runs inside to call Jimmy, but of course has to leave a message. There is a knock at the door which she answers rather than calling 9-1-1. Smartly, she does not open the door until she sees him pull out of her driveway.
Well, someone pulled out (there was a suspicious looking tarp in the back of the pickup, but I assumed it was Jimmy), because she notices the back door is wide open. She rushes to close it, then turns to see Duke with his toothpick-chewing Bill Paxton grin punch her right in the face.
Then, WTF, she is back at the Starfire Express closing out her shift. We can sense that there is something amiss about the timeline by the her lack of bruises and scars, and presence of her teeth. She walks to exactly the same spot, and the same truck rolls up. But she sees Jimmy’s smiling face this time. She seemed a little apprehensive, so I’m lost until she reveals that it was a dream — the first 11 minutes of the movie.
Jimmy drives her home, and even though there is talk of a 3-way with her best friend (JImmy: yes, Claire: no), he doesn’t even get a kiss goodbye. She goes inside for a snack and sees on the floor the star earring that she dropped — in the dream.
That night after a shift at the store, going to class, and making out under the bleachers with Jimmy, she takes a bath. As she drifts off, her dream resumes with her being dragged screaming to the basement by Duke. He kicks her in the face with his boot. She gets dressed and looks around, but finds nothing but her mother standing mysteriously in the dark basement.
The next day she takes a shower, and we see a man’s shape outside the curtain. We can be sure nothing is going to happen, though, because it is clear NO ONE is going to see this girl naked. As her mom drops her off for her shift that night, mom mentions, to Claire’s shock, that she has a date; and to Claire’s disgust that she might not be home that night. Just some guy from work. Hmmmm, I wonder . . . .
Claire falls asleep at work and her dream continues with Duke being chased through the woods by the police, then showing up at work at strangling her. Strangely, she also had a bit of this dream in her earlier shower. Was she sleeping standing up like a horse? I thought I had this thing figured out until this scene. If I’m still right, there is a big problem.
The police respond to her alarm and show her that there was no one attacking her, she was just asleep. Not only that, the man who is after her — Duke — was killed by police a week ago. The gulf is widening. Either I am REALLY wrong, or this movie was serious logistical issues.
As the police drive her home, she falls asleep in the back seat and dreams of Jimmy being killed. WTF, she awakens back in the pickup as Duke is throwing Jimmy’s body in the back. Then Duke punches her in the face. Then just as on the first day, they go to her house and he drags her down to the basement. He tells her that “All this is bullshit. The only thing that’s real is what you are feeling.” And then he kicks her in the face . . . and does something really gross, but not sexual.
There is, of course, a monster twist (well, figuratively a monster), and one I had not seen before. In fact, it took a few message boards for me to really get some of the nuances. It even applied some logic to minutia like Claire’s weird mother and that hazy reflection in the mirror.
It did, however, give me enough of an understanding to question some of the structure. I won’t sat it’s wrong, but I think I would have to diagram it out to prove to myself that it was logical. And I’m working on a time schedule here. It’s clear that thought was put into this, so I give them the benefit of my doubt.
I can think I can salvage a B out of this one.
- Can a 90 pound girl push a pickup truck down a driveway with a 5% grade to clutch start it?
- No big deal, just strange to see a big Arby’s box in Claire’s basement.
- Rinse, repeat.