Thursday, April 24, 2014

Single White Female 2: The Psycho and The Roommate

To absolutely no one’s surprise this is a pretty bad movie.  The script was definitely something else before someone said “there’s something about this that reminds me of Single White Female.  Hey, we should make a sequel to that, it’s a safer bet than whatever this piece of shit is.”  Then some poor bastard had the task of actually making that happen.  But it feels like whoever did the rewrite based it purely off their memory of seeing the original when it came out, thirteen years earlier.

The biggest problem is the new Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) character, Tess (Alison Lange (Gacy)).  Hedy was an extremely disturbed person that was obsessive but Tess is a stone cold killer (she’s a nurse that kills her patients) that just happens to be obsessive.  They also kept the criminal mastermind part that was tritely introduced at the end of the first one.  Tess plots to eliminate anyone that she deems a threat as opposed to Hedy who acted more in the moment.  So what was once an interesting character that stood out among sexy thrillers (hell, even regular ol’ thrillers) is now a generic villain in a shitty straight to video piece of schlock.

I mean, they kinda fucked just about everything up here.  They poorly mimicked scenes from the original (the lead has red hair, the weird sex club scene, the on again off again boyfriend, etc.), the setup is unnecessarily complicated and actually continues on to be its own subplot (remember the smart money is on this-script-was-retrofitted-to-be-SWF2) and none of the characters are likeable or interesting.  That last one is particularly harsh.  The Bridget Fonda character in this one, Holly (Kristen Miller (That’s My Bush!)), is supposed to be the innocent victim you side with but they made her into an asshole for some reason.  You see Holly rigs her chances for a job promotion by having her boyfriend be “the big account” that she has to land.  She thinks no one will notice and that it’ll be easy pickins.  Well her roommate (and colleague who also has a shot at the promotion), Jan, finds out and has sex with the boyfriend as a sort of pre-revenge (she does this before the promotion is handed out).  This is what prompts Holly to search for a new roommate.  See what I mean about a complicated setup?

Anyway, Holly’s a jerk for trying to game the system and Jan isn’t much better.  She’s one helluva malicious person.  For no reason she’s completely mean to everyone.  Like, she insults Tess to her face even before she knows who she is and keeps on taking digs at Holly after she destroys the relationship between her and her boyfriend.  You got them to break up lady, you’re just kicking someone while their down.

And the boyfriend character is kind of a douche because, like the original, he’s a cheater and he’s a little slimy.  I don’t know what it is about him but I just get the impression that there’s this phony smarminess in everything he says and does.

On top of all of this crap they couldn’t find two actresses that looked alike for the lead roles either.  When Tess dyes her hair red she does not suddenly look like Holly.  In fact their faces are very different.  Everything about Tess’ is sharp and gaunt while Holly’s is round and plump.  The filmmakers kind of couldn’t have found more opposite people to play the leads, in terms of looks anyway.

This one plays more like a bad remake than a sequel.  There isn’t very much, if anything, that I liked about it.  Wait, I take that back.  There’s a part when Jan says that she can get the media in to do a promo for the boyfriend’s restaurant that’s about to open.  But she says “both print and electronic”.  Did people really refer to internet media as “electronic” back then?  I honestly don’t remember (and shit, that was like less than ten years ago).  I know 2005 was before we all had the news on our iPhones and tablets ‘n’ shit but that just seemed so awkward and weird to hear.  Whatever, it gave me a laugh and you should never see this movie. 

Sex Scenes: One.

After Sex Scenes: Two.

Strange Cameos: I got nothin’ for this one, sorry guys.

The Roommate is a straight remake of SWF and it’s just as bad as SWF2.  Changing the characters to teens, moving the setting to college and bumping the rating down to PG-13 was an obvious attempt to appeal to a younger audience.  Surprisingly it doesn’t feel as toned down as I thought it would though.

The only actual cool and somewhat creepy thing in here is when the crazy roommate sticks earrings through her unpierced ears.  I’ll give them credit for that.  It’s one of those things where it feels like I’ve seen that gag before in something else even though I’m pretty sure I haven’t.  If you have let me know.  

But otherwise I honestly can’t remember much.  The acting by the Bridget Fonda character is really bad.  Even at the end when she’s begging for her life she doesn’t get that emotional.  The other one, the psychotic one, is too noticeably a nut job.  She clings to her roommate and shits on everyone else almost instantly.  There isn’t any build up or mystery to the character.  She might as well of had “I’m a cracked bitch” tattooed on her forehead.

What a fuckin' cat killing asshole
One thing I did notice and want to bring up was the lack of technology present.  This thing came out in 2011 but the use of cell phones and computers ‘n shit is kept to a minimum.  They use the internet only once I think to look up some medication that the crazy roommate is supposed to be taking (but isn’t).  And there’s a scene where a cell phone is used to record a conversation as opposed to using it as, you know, a phone where you can have someone on the other end, like the cops or something, to hear the incriminating talk.  It’s a really weird but interesting choice to not have these modern college kids be on their phones and computers all the time.

I don’t recommend this one either.  There’s no reason for this to exist.  It doesn’t bring anything new to the table nor was it necessary to update and dumb down the original.  Single White Female has faded from the public’s memory over the years and that’s a shame.  If anything maybe The Roommate got a couple of folks to check it out and that’s the best thing I can say about it. 

Sex Scenes: One.  Actually, they intercut a sex scene and a masturbation scene together but I only counted it as one.

After Sex Scenes: None.

Strange Cameos: Billy Zane (The Phantom) plays a really cheesy fashion professor.  Oh and he also likes to fuck his students.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Single White Female

If you look at these sexy thriller lists you’ll find the usual suspects like Basic Instinct, Body Heat and Fatal Attraction.  But one you never see is Single White Female.  Why?  Who the fuck knows but I’m here to tell you that this is one sexy and thrilling fucking picture.

Allison (Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown)) is a trendy 90’s kinda gal with a Linda Evangelista haircut and…some sort of…fashion sense…I guess?  She just broke up with her cheating boyfriend, Sam (Steven Weber (Wings)), but can’t stand the thought of being alone so she puts out an ad for a roommate.  Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist)) is the one that Allison takes on and, as these things go, Hedy is one rat shit insane motherfucker.
Linda Evangelista 1991

Bridget Fonda 1992
I thought this was going to be bad not only because it’s just the odds on these thrillers, but also because no one really talks about it (at least since the mid 90’s). And while this movie is mostly predictable it is one entertaining piece of cinema.  I mean, holy shit did I have a good time watching this.  The two leads pull off great performances (especially Leigh) and the story genuinely kinda creeped me out a little.  The idea that the person you’re living with is a psycho and that you’re really unsure whether or not they would kill you in your sleep got to me.  It’s not just the idea of impending doom but that impending doom is right down the hall.

And to go off on a side tangent for a moment, Allison has got to be the unluckiest person who ever existed.  She falls in love with a scumbag dude who cheats on her, had a falling out with her former business partner forcing her to start her career all over again, gets hired by some piece of shit that tries to rape her, subsequently has to quit leaving her with no future prospects and ends up picking the worst roommate of all time.  Jesus, this lady cannot catch a fucking break.  None of this shit is her fault really.  She’s like a magnet for horrible people.

The attempted rape thing totally didn’t need to be in there by the way.  I guess the filmmakers thought Allison’s life wasn’t going badly enough?  It’s an unnecessarily nasty plot point that doesn’t go anywhere.  Allison doesn’t suddenly become this strong independent woman that can deal with Hedy and the incident doesn’t lead to something else that eventually exposes Hedy.  So they probably should’ve left that out.

Impulsive rape wasn’t the only thing that caught me off guard though.  The crucial blowjob scene was a real surprise and the ending turned into something different than I was expecting.  Hedy becomes way too criminal mastermind-y with plotting a whole escape plan and way to tie everything up.  I didn’t buy it.  Hedy is a seriously mentally disturbed person with deep psychological issues and not a Batman villain.  When she whipped out a gun it didn’t feel right.  Hedy would never purposefully carry a gun.  She would use whatever was around her at the time because she’s the type of person that acts more in the moment and doesn’t think ahead too much, if at all.  The character was excellently built up and fleshed for most of the film and then they threw it all out the window so the confrontation between her and Allison for the finale could be perceived as more exciting.  That’s a real shame.

While I’m talking about the negatives I did mention that many of the plot points are predictable.  For example Hedy buys a puppy which you know was only introduced so it could be killed off later to demonstrate how evil Hedy is.  There’s also Allison’s friend, Graham (Peter Friedman (Paycheck)), who’s there to either be more fodder for Hedy or help out during the ending (you’ll have to watch to find out which it is).  And so on.

But don’t let that stand in your way.  Even if you’ve seen a bunch of these types of thrillers this one has a lot to offer.  The characters are better developed than usual, some turns in the plot aren’t so predictable (including one that shocked the shit out of me, I’ll just say keep an eye out for it *wink* *wink*), the film may not have been shot in the most exciting manner but it’s certainly clear and concise, the lighting is actually well done with a lot of scenes taking place at night and they make some interesting use of shadows, this might be the best acting job I’ve seen Jennifer Jason Leigh give and the general idea for the movie is a great one.

My favorite part is probably when Hedy takes Allison to the salon to get their hair done.  And even though I knew what was coming, that Hedy was going to get the same haircut, hair color and clothes as Allison, I was still in disbelief that this character would do something this weird and crazy.  What I was most shocked about, and impressed with, was how much they got Leigh to look like Fonda.  It’s pretty goddamn amazing because they look like two totally different people for half the movie but then when Hedy changes over I actually had a little bit of a hard time telling them apart.  For the rest of the film I had to think for a second who I was looking at and get my bearings.  I applaud the good folks that did the hair, makeup and wardrobe because they totally nailed it. 

With all the buildup the transformation scene hits hard and makes you realize that Hedy is more fucked up than you may have initially thought.  To compare, Alicia Silverstone in The Crush does really movie-ish things to show how crazy she is, like she dumps a hive full of bees into a darkroom and she unbuckles the saddle on a horse so that the rider will get thrown off at the precise moment.  That character isn’t scary because she’s too cartoony.  Hedy, on the other hand, feels more like a real person because she starts off doing things that are subtly eerie like buying the same clothes that Allison has and ups the ante with the mysterious death of the puppy.  Then she becomes Allison and the gravity of the situation changes.  At first it’s like, “looks like we got a run of the mill psycho bitch on our hands”, but then it turns into, “cheez, that’s actually some bizarrely dark and creepy shit.”  That’s why the big dumb Hollywood ending that they stuck on here stings worse than usual.  They had a good thing going and opted to wrap it up in the most typical and, in some ways, offensive way possible.

It’s interesting that both the book that this was based on and the screenplay were written by men.  The director, Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune), is also a dude.  I’ve mentioned previously that this is the case with most sexy thrillers and it’s kind of a weird thing.  There isn’t much else I have to say on that, it’s just something I noticed.

So yeah, this is both sexy and thrilling.  I enjoyed it a helluva lot.  In fact my initial feeling was that this is required reading for sexy thriller aficionados.  But then I thought about it a little more and couldn’t make a strong enough argument that this is one of the greatest of all time.  There are too many flaws that prevent it from achieving that status.  This is a good movie though guys, not just for single white females but for everyone.

Ah fuck it, this is one of the best sexy thrillers out there.  You should really probably see it.

Sex Scenes: Two and a half and…uhh…a half.  The two halves are made up of the blowjob scene and there’s also a masturbation scene.  Together they do not equal a whole other sex scene in my opinion.

After Sex Scenes: Two and a half?  I’m not that confident in my tally for this category because there were a bunch of scenes with Bridget Fonda and Steven Weber lying in bed and/or waking up naked.  It was difficult to tell if sex had previously taken place or if that’s just how these people sleep.

And I also want to mention that there’s a lot of just plane nudity and shadow butt type shit in here.  You know, someone will get up from bed and you’ll catch a glimpse of side boob or whatever.

Strange Cameos: Stephen Tobolowsky plays Allison’s boss and attempted rapist.  He’s been in a ton of stuff but most folks might know him as Ned from Groundhog Day.        

The Mataras twins, Tiffany and Krystle, are in this for a minute and if you’ve seen Kindergarten Cop, Problem Child 2 or Camp Nowhere you’ll probably recognize them.