Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wild Things

Title:  Wild Things
Director:  John McNaughton
Released:  1998
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Bill Murray, Robert Wagner

Plot: When high school guidance councillor Sam Lambardo (Dillion) is accused of rape by two students, the privileged and popular Kelly (Richards) and poor outcast Suzie (Campbell), detective Ray Duquette (Bacon) decided to investigate further believing that there is more at play than it seem.


Review:  Recently on the “LAMBcast” there has been a theory bounced around you’re your enjoyment of certain films can be determined by when you saw them. A theory which came about due to the show host Jay (LifeVs. Film) not liking “The Goonies” (shocking right) a film he’d only recently seen, compared to those members of the group in attendance who watched it as kids and seemingly as a result of those memories fiercely defended the film. Now here with this film I feel I may have found another example of this, for here we have a film I watched for the first time recently and its one I couldn’t help wondering if I would have liked it more had I come to it when I was younger, like so many of the fans of this film.

An unashamedly sleazy film disguised by its mainstream cast, it might be of little surprised to know that the film is directed by John McNaughton who memorably gave us the equally shocking and controversial “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”. Here though he aims for something a little more mainstream with this erotic thriller which is probably best known for its sex scenes which again might have explained why I would have liked it more had I come to it as a younger viewer. At the same time this film also has those fans who love the numerous twists within the film and for that reason I will warn now that spoilers lie ahead.

When we first meet Sam he comes across as a working class teacher trying to elevate his status by working at this school especially when it gives him access to a taste of a more privileged life through his students like Kelly. At the same time Kelly is shown as the predatory teenage seductress who is determined to seduce Sam, as seen through her aggressive attempts at seduction, all which are countered by Sam, who blocks her through various distraction tactics with McNaughton teasingly cutting to another scene after he teases something happening between them as they stands in front of him soaking wet from washing his car, the sexual tension between them painful obvious and by cutting like this it leaves us cleverly thinking we’ve something happen which we haven’t perfectly playing into the rape accusations that Sam finds himself facing following this scene.

While the film could have worked perfectly well with Sam having to defend himself against the charges and have the film slowly reveal what actually happened which doesn’t happen here as instead we get a brief court case with Sam being defended by Bill Murray’s budget ambulance chasing lawyer in probably one of his more surprising appearances before we find out that the whole accusation was in fact a plot for Sam, Kelly and Suzie to embezzle Kelly’s mother.  From here the film switches its focus to the trio attempting to cover their tracks and make off with the 8.5 million that Sam is awarded as a result of the false allegations.

This first twist (of so many which are to follow) is a great surprise and one which is revealed as part of a graphic threesome that the trio have and one which Denise Richards declined to use a body double for so good news for her fans, while Neve Campbell’s no nudity clause in her contract means that her fans expecting the same are going to be disappointed even if she does have a swimming pool make out session with Richards which comes seemingly out of nowhere, while feeling that it had been included just to add to the already high sleaze factor here.  Of course I would question these scenes more if the film wasn’t already revealing in its sleaziness making it all the more surprising that McNaughton was able to assemble the cast that he did for this film. An equally interesting point is that Kevin Bacon’s contract all came with a no nudity clause, yet Bacon fans here get to enjoy full frontal Bacon nudity which is not only surprising seeing how frequently we’ve seen him various states of undress since he showed his ass in “Friday the 13th” and as the film’s producer essentially he could have sued himself for breach of contract. Perhaps because of “Boogie Nights” receiving such acclaim and the career boost it gave its stars that the cast here where hoping that they could achieve the same with film….it failed.

While it’s easy to let the film slide on its sleaze factor especially when the investigation being carried out by the detectives feels mainly like filler, especially when they never seem to achieve anything other than being constantly behind the trio as things between them start to slowly fall apart. The real issue for the film comes in the final quarter when it appears that the film has played its final hand only to decent into a series of ever more implausible twists so that it feels like McNaughton is constantly shout “But Wait!” to the audience as he twists the plot once again with each twist getting more random than the last it seems.  For some reason though McNaughton’s back up plan to cover for all of this is a series of scenes which appear throughout the credits showing how the plot actually played out, which I know a lot of fans have stated as being one of the things they love about this film, but for myself it just felt like a way to try and tape the whole mess together into something a little more coherent. Interestingly though this isn’t the case with the script actually being written to include this credit scene even though it feels like an afterthought.

A disappointing film which while certainly high on sleaze is low on substance and would perhaps be more forgettable if it was for the explicit sex scenes and nudity which as titles roll will probably the only thing you’ll take away from this film, other than the staggering amount of twists that McNaughton attempts to pull off here and whose success really falls to your opinion of how many twists is a twist too far.

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