In my debut to Director Evan Jacobs' more serious works has come Haymaker. A far cry from the silliness of Death Toilet and Fleas, this story involves a much more serious and suspenseful premise, that being an anonymous terrorist threatening the 'fix-it' guy of a local boxing ring through a bomb threat. Unlike the parodical films that rely more on purposefully abysmal special effects and actors clearly having more fun with the project than actually attempting to make a serious production, this movie holds a more grounded tone, with all of it being filmed through our protagonist's camera as he frantically searches the building and its perimeter in the faint hopes he can identify and prevent this bomb from exploding before time runs out. During this quest, he attempts to alert other individuals, such as the Ring's Promotor and Photographer to the imminent danger, only to be casually rebuked and signify that within this ordeal, he is truly alone. Of course, there is still one instance of rather subpar special effects, that being when the bomb itself goes off, but frankly I ignored that entirely. What matters here is the plot, more specifically the motivations of why this mysterious villain is inflicting such psychological misery onto the Fix-It Guy.
To start with, Haymaker's primary strength is the frantic dialogue between the small cast of characters, most importantly being the discussion between Fix-It Guy (that's what I'm calling him now since to my knowledge I don't believe a name is ever associated with him or any other major character for that matter) and his anonymous caller. Throughout the movie, these calls grow increasingly tense as Fix-It Guy's clear frustration and sanity are deteriorating and his attempts to warn the patrons are consistently ignored. Despite this being a non-horror film, it only further proves my point that should Director Jacobs ever decide to embark on the cinematic venture of horror, I'd be all for it, as he manages to portray a man running out of options and growing further into desperation exceptionally well, which fits directly into the thriller genre. We see Fix-It Guy practically running around the Hangar (the Boxing Ring's name) trying to uncover this mystery whilst begging the caller to answer his questions about their motivations, never receiving a clear answer. I did initially find this frustrating, since the movie had done an excellent job of building up this question and what was at stake because of it; due to dramatic overhanging shots of the boxing match and two of the characters (Promoter and Photographer) reminiscing about the situation, being interviewed by what I can assume is either a news team or documentary crew seeking to understand more about the fateful events that night.
However, if you pay close enough attention, the movie does drop occasional hints that paint a picture of what happened. Everyone can have their own theories of course, but I personally believe the caller was none other than Fix-It Guy's daughter, let me explain. Early on in the movie, Promoter is being interviewed about the events of that night and is asked whether or not he'd ever speak to 'him' (Fix-It Guy most likely) ever again, to which he vehemently denies and emphasizes that all forms of communication between the two have been cut off, likely on his own volition. Similarly, Photographer is asked the same question, and while stating that he desires to apologize to Fix-It Guy for not taking the threat seriously, I was left wondering why the interviewers bothered asking about their personal relationships to him in the first place. The dots began to connect when Photographer mentioned the caller was not a he, but a she. Furthermore, during a call with the anonymous terrorist, Fix-It Guy mentions that he underwent a 'nasty divorce', but provides no specific details. Finally, at the movie's climax, right before setting off her explosive, the terrorist remarks that Fix-It Guy 'abandoned her when she needed him most', not referring to herself in the first person, which she would have if this was solely about avenging her own personal grudge. From what I can tell, Fix-It Guy was perhaps involved in some level of criminal activity before the movie takes place, likely having hurt innocent people in the process. Upon his wife finding out, he hurriedly divorced her and took as much as he feasibly could from the marriage, abandoning her and subsequently his own daughter in an attempt to move on.
I'm unsure whether this was intentional or not, but we can also tell from an early point that our Fixer character isn't exactly the greatest of people from what little we garner about his personality. When being threatened, his first concern is the financial setbacks he'll endure because of a hypothetical bomb going off at the Hangar, rather than the more obvious concern of civilian casualties. He seems entirely fixated on the personal and financial loss he would endure, mainly the loss of reputation and monetary implosion, and only ever mentions that innocent people would be harmed as a last resort to appeal to the anonymous caller. Perhaps after the bomb went off, the police investigation yielded the motivations behind this attack and also Fix-It Guy's questionable backstory. I also theorize because of the lack of support from him, his wife ultimately died in tragic circumstances, unable to handle the pressures of being a single mother most likely, and his daughter finally snapped, taking vengeance upon her villainous excuse of a father.
Of course, this is simply a theory, though I hope it's true! Either way, despite having the markings of a low-budget film, 'Haymaker' managed to enrapture me into the story it told from start to finish, and my only complaint is that it should've been longer so I could've known if my hunch was correct! Either way, yet another great piece of cinematic work by Director Evan Jacobs, I highly recommend you check it out if you have fifty minutes to spare and an enthusiasm for thriller movies.