By EW Staff
Updated October 20, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

A timid paper-products salesman and a leering hitchhiker hit the road while the news reports are full of a hatchet killer on the loose and a million-dollar thief on the lam. But the plot is secondary to the true appeal of the direct-to-video thriller Nature of the Beast (1995, New Line, R, priced for rental). The film’s main draw is the sight of Lance Henriksen and Eric Roberts in a steel-cage match of an acting duel. While Henriksen carefully reins in his intensity to play the repressed Milquetoast salesman, Roberts is dead-on as a dangerously flamboyant character that would have driven most actors into parody. The film then pays off with a strange, yet logical, conclusion and — like The Usual Suspects — is worth watching twice to see how the actors use the knowledge that the viewers don’t have. B+