Gripping plot, powerful acting and clear, creative cinematography: These are the essential pieces of a quality film, and they are all conspicuously absent from "The Catcher."
But don’t count "The Catcher" out just yet. What it lacks in quality, the film more than makes up for with heart. It’s obvious that director Jeff Hoffman had nothing to work with, and, just like a bad poker player, he still refused to quit. The effort is almost cute.
"The Catcher" opens with a father and his young son playing catch in their front yard. The dad goes ballistic when his son can’t catch the ball, screaming obscenities and various other trash talking. At the boy’s game the next day, the father is again bitching out his son. This time around, the kid committed three errors, so like any good father, the dad "toughens up" his son by beaning him with a few well-thrown fastballs and knocking him face first into the dirt. When the dad turns his back, the son takes the opportunity to crack him from behind with his bat. A few nice swings later the father is dead.
Fast-forward about 20 years, and David Walker (you’ve never heard and never will hear of the actor who plays him) is a catcher for the minor league Bakersfield Devils. Walker is a former league MVP, but now he bats .101. He gets kicked out of the final game of the season, his girl dumps him in the locker room, and he’s more than a little peeved. He starts to drink away the pain with a little Jack Daniels, and he hasn’t even found out that his contract with the team has just been cut.
Walker’s first order of business is to kill the opposing team’s star player. So, naturally, he suits up in his catcher’s gear as a disguise, uniform and all. A bat to the back of the star’s head takes care of the situation. Next, Walker tracks down his teammate Billy, whom he doesn’t get along with very well. He tapes Billy to a table, drops his pants and proceeds to make love to Billy’s ass. Once he’s had enough, Walker gets kinky and shoves a bat up Billy’s behind, killing him.
All that killing makes Walker tired, so he takes a break to go get his pink slip from the team’s general manager, a young woman named Terry (you’ve never heard of her either). While Walker asks for his job back, the janitor bolts in the door to alert Terry about a big puddle of blood he found in the basement. Walker claims he has to "check something out," at which point he finds and murders the team’s manager, Red (with a pitching machine – on high speed, of course). Soon the chase after Terry is on, and "The Catcher" hits the home stretch with a very surprising plot twist. Actually, the movie cheats, because the twist is impossible to detect beforehand.
One of the fun things about "The Catcher" is the game you can play while watching it. Clocking in at exactly 90 minutes, it’s obvious that there are about 20 minutes of filler added to a 70-minute movie. Watch it with your friends, have everyone take notes, and see who can detect the most excess footage.
Despite its ineptness in the basics of filmmaking, "The Catcher" is a classic. Some may call it amateurish or cheap, but I call it innovative. Mark "The Catcher" just a notch below the best occupational horrors of all time – "The Dentist" and "The Dentist 2."