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Wild Things

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Wild Things

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell
Director: John McNaughton
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: March 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Noir, Suspense

*Also starring: Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, Bill Murray, Carrie Snodgress, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert Wagner, Jeff Perry

Review by AlexI
3½ stars out of 4

"..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.

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