Movie Review: 'Super Hybrid'


Ahhh, the good ol' "killer car" sub-genre. How we (kinda) love it. But for every example like Steven Spielberg's Duel or John Carpenter's Christine, we eventually get something really dumb like Maximum Overdrive or Trucks, both of which are based on a Stephen King short story. Of course you'll always find some fans of The Car (1977) or The Wraith (1986), and of course there are dozens of similar titles floating around -- but let's face it: this is a silly concept. "A driverless car that kills people" isn't much of a plot, and while a few filmmakers have found a way to make the concept, well, less stupid, in most cases we're just stuck waiting for stupid movie characters to walk out on the street and get run over.

Spielberg (and Richard Matheson) kept it cool by never showing the inside of the malevolent truck, whereas Carpenter (and King) drew a parallel between a haunted automobile and a teenage misfit who is slowly losing his mind. Clever enough. So you either explain the car or you do not. Either way is potentially dull and/or silly.

Which brings us to Eric Valette's Super Hybrid, a horror flick so intent on being named in the same breath as The Car and Christine that it mentions them on the DVD cover. Suffice to say this flick is no Christine -- but if you like goofball stuff like The Car and (dear lord) Maximum Overdrive, there's probably a few small thrills to be found here. At the very least, I can promise that Super Hybrid offers a unique explanation as to why its vehicle kills people: it's actually a shape-shifting monster that only chooses to look like a car. This mean little bastard can even morph from a sedan into a pick-up so as to entice a wide array of potential victims into its front-seat embrace. Lots of Super Hybrid is rather dippy, but it is pretty cool to see a car thief sit down in a monster car only to be "absorbed" in icky fashion.

When it's not focused on a biological car-beast that kills people in a variety of un-car-like ways, Super Hybrid is basic across the board: our setting is an underground impound garage, which enables Valette to trap his generic characters in an effectively isolated location (we're basically talking about a slasher film in which Jason is a car, after all). The adorable Shannon Beckner is the heroine of the day, and she's surrounded by idiots, mechanics, and jerks (Oded Fehr is clearly having fun as a ball-busting garage manager, although the character gets pretty annoying in short order). Neal Stevens' screenplay seems to meander whenever it's not setting up another kill, but at least Valette (best known for films like Malefique and One Missed Call) knows how to swing his camera around a garage (that's my way of saying that for a silly Canadian low-budget car-monster movie, Super Hybrid is surprisingly nice to look at).

Ultimately, the killer car movie is review-proof. It's a remarkably silly premise, but if you're the type of movie freak who saw (and liked) all the flicks I mentioned in the opening paragraph, then there's no reason you won't enjoy 88 minutes of the mindless but adequately colorful Super Hybrid.

(Surprisingly gory for a PG-13 flick, Super Hybrid hits DVD and blu-ray on 8/23. There is a featurette.)