The film is directed by Danish-born Mikael Salomon. After emigrating to the US in the 1980s, Salomon plied his trade as a cinematographer on various A-list films before making his directorial debut on the coming of age drama A Far Off Place (1993) and went onto the disaster movie Hard Rain (1998) and various other works mostly for television, including genre works such as Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999), the Dean R. Koontz adaptation Sole Survivor (2000), the remake of Michael Crichtons The Andromeda Strain (2008), The Lost Future (2010) and the remake of Coma (2012). Salomon has made several other Stephen King works with the mini-series remake of Salems Lot (2004) and episodes of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006).
Big Driver is essentially Stephen Kings version of I Spit on Your Grave (1978), the brutal rape and revenge drama that polarised audiences and has since been remade and multiply sequelised. Being Lifetime, the rawness and brutality of the I Spit on Your Grave films has been considerably watered down. Ive written elsewhere on the difficulties on the moral spectrum these rape-revenge films leave you as a reviewer are they exploitative or merely showing the harrowing brutalism that rape involves? Is watering the depiction down (as Big Driver does) being less exploitative or making the experience too anodyne and tasteful and thus minimising what victims go through? To its credit, Big Driver waters things down as far as it needs for television, while concentrating more on showing us Maria Bellos shattered state of mind afterwards.
The major problem I had with the film was other aspects of it in particular, the various narrative devices. Much of the story is taken up by Maria Bello having imaginary conversations with Olympia Dukakis as her lead knitting circle detective as she tries to track the identity of the Big Driver. Things become increasingly more ridiculous when it comes to the voice of her cars GPS offering sympathy and the two having arguments, or the dead bodies she kills coming back to life to offer their input. Without having read the story, one suspects the problem is one that has been inherited by being too faithful to Stephen King. King is a master of the inner voice and does it better than any other writer. I think what has happened here is that screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson has made a valiant effort to replicate that on screen which follows the novella closely but it is something that just does not work as a visual device without collapsing into the ridiculous.
To its credit, the film starts working reasonably during about the last twenty minutes as Maria Bello tracks down the Big Driver and her plan starts going wrong or she shoots the wrong person. This is where you wanted the film to work. Alas, the presence of imaginary companions, talking GPSs and dead bodies brings the whole show down.
Other Stephen King genre adaptations include:- Carrie (1976), Salems Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Christine (1983), Cujo (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), Children of the Corn (1984), Firestarter (1984), Cats Eye (1985), Silver Bullet (1985), The Running Man (1987), Pet Semetary (1989), Graveyard Shift (1990), It (tv mini-series, 1990), Misery (1990), a segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Sometimes They Come Back (1991), The Lawnmower Man (1992), The Dark Half (1993), Needful Things (1993), The Tommyknockers (tv mini-series, 1993), The Stand (tv mini-series, 1994), The Langoliers (tv mini-series, 1995), The Mangler (1995), Thinner (1996), The Night Flier (1997), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (tv mini-series, 1997), Trucks (1997), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Dead Zone (tv series, 2001-2), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Carrie (tv mini-series, 2002), Dreamcatcher (2003), Riding the Bullet (2004), Salems Lot (tv mini-series, 2004), Secret Window (2004), Desperation (tv mini-series, 2006), Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (tv mini-series, 2006), 1408 (2007), The Mist (2007), Children of the Corn (2009), Everythings Eventual (2009), the tv series Haven (2010-5), Bag of Bones (tv mini-series, 2011), Carrie (2013), Under the Dome (tv series, 2013-5), A Good Marriage (2014), Mercy (2014), Cell (2016), 11.22.63 (tv mini-series, 2016), The Dark Tower (2017), Geralds Game (2017), It (2017), The Mist (tv series, 2017), Mr. Mercedes (tv series, 2017 ) and 1922 (2017). Stephen King had also written a number of original screen works with Creepshow (1982), Golden Years (tv mini-series, 1991), Sleepwalkers (1992), Storm of the Century (tv mini-series, 1999), Rose Red (tv mini-series, 2002) and the tv series Kingdom Hospital (2004), as well as adapted his own works with the screenplays for Cats Eye, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, The Stand, The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn 2009 and Cell. King also directed one film with Maximum Overdrive (1986).