Ride Baby Ride

Ride Baby Ride (2023)

In Michael Bay’s Transformers (2007), adolescent protagonist Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) purchases a banged-up 1976 Chevrolet Camaro to be his first car, although it is not Sam but Mikaela (Megan Fox), the object of Sam’s affection (also objectified by the film, right from the very first leering pan up her bodywork) who actually knows something about vehicular repair and maintenance. The car will turn out to conceal the Autobot known as Bumblebee. Sofie Somoroff’s short film Ride Baby Ride will play on this nexus of associations, even as it riffs off John Carpenter’s Christine (1983) and Julia Ducournau’s Titane (2021).

Ride Baby Ride

Here an unnamed, no-nonsense mechanic (Celina Bernstein) just wants to focus on auto parts in negotiating the right price for a second-hand 1978 Camaro, but she finds the two male sellers interested only in creepy ogling and lecherous innuendo. As one (Tony Pagliaro), staring the mechanic right in the eye, practically humps the car’s bonnet, the other (Sam H. Clauder II) comments, “She’s a little spicy one” – and it is unclear whether he is referring to the mechanic or the vehicle. For this old red Camaro is also more than meets the eye, concealing within itself a demonic spirit with vicious sexual designs on its new owner.  

The Camaro assaults, falsely imprisons and attempts to violate the mechanic in her own garage, only for the tough, resourceful woman to fight back with everything she has and to teach the vehicle a lesson in non-consensual penetration. The film is a mostly female production – not just writer/director/producer/costume designer Somoroff, but her fellow producers Bernstein and Sam Fox (also first assistant director), DP Gemma Doll-Grossman, editor Beth Cohon, composer Elenna Sindler, Emma Croft on hair and makeup, and many others – much as the mechanic’s garage is decorated not with the typical softporn pin-ups, but with, alongside pictures of red Camaros, photographs of the mechanic as a little girl being literally supported in the arms of her mother. There is also the odd male ally to be found among the film’s crew members, like production designer/SPFX supervisor Shane Bannon (who also ‘plays’ the Camaro’s groping hand) – but for the most part, this is very much a women’s picture.

Ride Baby Ride

Ride Baby Ride is an eye-rolling feminist rejoinder to the boys-with-toys machismo of Bayhem, as Somoroff takes a screwdriver to the inner workings of male privilege and violently tames the beast. Think of it as rape rev-enge, with some radical interior repairs on the cathartic work schedule. 

strap: In Sofie Somoroff’s short film, a put-upon mechanic turns the screw(driver) on objectification and gets her rape rev-enge

© Anton Bitel