"..People are not what they seem to be.."
John McNaughton has created a streamy, hip, sexy,
at times funny and constantly surprising detective investigation. Its trashy
style, with plentiful sex, nudity and murder will thrill the neo-noir fans
and the MTV generation. It's a well made thriller that completely catches
and engages the viewer in its complicated web of grizzly events following
one after another.
"Wild Things" can be compared to Wes Craven's "Scream". That being,
reinventing the genre by using it's conventions to laugh with us at the
absurdity of it. It is more serious and complicated, than Craven's
reinvention, but at least as entertaining and interesting to watch.
"Wild Things" starts off with a tense, playfulness. Sam Lombardo (Matt
Dillon) is a guidance counselor at a local college in Florida. He is a
heartthrob for the female student body. He leads an assembly introducing
some students to the local detectives, Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) and Gloria
Perez (Daphne Rubin-Vega) for a discussion on Sex Crimes. Tension mounts
immediately when Suzie Toller leaves the auditorium cursing on behalf of
Duquette, (for what reason, we won't learn until much later in the plot).
The plot starts in earnest when Kelly Van Ryan (Denice Richards) and her
friend Nicole show up at Sam's home to wash his car (part of a school credit
program). Kelly has an obvious crush on Sam, and conspires with her friend
to be left alone with him. Events start to take a drastic turn when Sam is
accused of rape. He is suspended from his job, loses his home and is outcast
from the port town he lives.
This is all I intend to reveal of the plot to not spoil the impression.
Actually, even if I wanted to, I could never have done it, since the complex
story would unfold on multiple pages.
Visually the film is a perfect example on what we call "Hollywood-style":
impressive cinematography, fast paced editing and wisely chosen locations.
This creates the right atmosphere of an appearing innocence covering up the
horrifying reality. There are some brilliant scenes, miscellaneously edited,
where monstrous alligators appear slowly from the pure and clear waters.
This, at first glance unnoticeable parallel, is clearly the film's real
strength - showing the unsettling difference between a world we want to see
and what this world really is. "..People are not what they seem to be.." The
characters should appear as beautiful, attractive and charming, which is in
direct opposition to who they really are. Generally the acting is above
average, but not above the level of what we are used to expect from intense
thrillers. McNaughton knowingly lets the plot overshadow the characters.
This action naturally sets new demands for the script. " I don't like most
thrillers I see. I read the first five pages of the script, and I can
already predict what will happen on the last two pages. Most are very
clichéd," says the director. His plot really presents a twisting story,
providing surprising (maybe even too clever) turns and twists. It presents
mysteries that compound themselves into sub-mysteries to trick and deceive
audiences with the resolution embedded at the end (the screenwriter has
included so many elements that they had to be explained between the closing
credits). And there are offcourse some logical mistakes, flops and failures
along the way. Towards the end it gets so weird that you'll have to wonder
what the director was thinking. They tried hard to make it as unpredictable
as possible, but they tried too hard. As the events are progressing, you
might just think of the most unexpected and unrealistic thing to happen, and
it probably will.
By going a bit too far, McNaughton excludes his chances to be the creator of
one of the most interesting thrillers released during this decade.