If Looks Could Kill

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“Keeps the pot boiling energetically enough.”

I’ve been a fan of The Asylum studio for a while. They’re famous – or infamous – mainly for two things. Originally, they churned out “mockbusters”, films that rode the advertising coat-tails of larger budget and more famous movies, using titles such as (I kid you not), Snakes on a Train. More recently, they are also creators of the cult Sharknado series for SyFy. However, The Asylum can and will, make more or less anything they think will turn a profit. Their quality of output does vary, shall we say. Yet I was entertained by this slice of Lifetime fluff ‘n’ nonsense more than expected, mostly due to effective performances from the two leads.

There’s Faith Gray (Estes), whose new job as a beat cop has re-united her with Detective Paul Wagner (Kosalka), for whom she has always had a “thing.” But at an incident in a local bar, he meets and ends up beginning a relationship with, Jessica Munroe (Spiro). She’s a drop-dead blonde with aspirations of becoming a movie star – not something easily accomplished in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Before you can say “We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors,” she’s pregnant and married to Paul. Faith, however, thinks there’s something not quite right about Jessica, though her investigation could be considered more as jealousy-induced stalking. It’s certainly painted as such by its target.

The film never tries to hide the fact that Jessica is nutty as a fruitcake. As a result, its plotting is instead very much concerned just with getting the story from Point A to B, offering few surprises. I’m not exactly convinced by the “Based on a true story” claim here. And let’s not even start with the police procedures depictede: let’s just say, Stillwater PD could use some re-training, and move on. Yet the pleasures outweighed the deficiencies; in particular, as mentioned, watching the mousy Faith and psychotic glam-girl Jessica face off. The latter gets most of the cinematic highlights, vamping it up to great effect. Witness, for example, her hyper-ventilating in order to place a convincingly panicked phone call to her lover. Guess all Jessica’s acting classes finally paid off!

I admit, there’s something fun about watching a manipulative sociopath at work: there’s a reason Dangerous Liaisons is one of the all-time greats. Spiro isn’t quite at Glenn Close standards, yet both she and Estes give it their all, and elevate the material to enjoyable nonsense. Even if we didn’t quite get the hellacious cat-fight climax for which I was hoping, it’s always good to see a film where both protagonist and antagonist are women, and there’s no doubt all the effort went into Faith and Jessica, with the male characters barely registering. Paul, in particular, is so easily deceived you wonder how he ever became a detective. Yet, as pulpy nonsense goes, this hour and a half certainly went by quickly and painlessly enough.

Dir: James Cullen Bressack
Star: Stefanie Estes, Summer Spiro, Tomek Kosalka, Brian Shoop

The Eyes of My Mother

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“Eyes without a farce.”

“Post-horror” is now, apparently, A Thing. It refers to horror films that subvert the traditional tropes and style of the genre in some way. Though based on the so-tagged example of it I’ve seen, the main subversion appears to be “not being frightening.” I think there’s a spot of pretension mixed in as well, since horror is generally regarded as marginally above pornography in terms of critical appreciation. By calling it something else, this gives those who turn their nose up at “horror” a chance to appreciate it. But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword for marketing, because you’re as likely to lose fans of “true” horror, who have been burned badly by films riding on the genre’s coat-tails.

There’s nothing particularly new about this. Films which rely on implied rather than explicit horror have generally been more warmly received by critics. Think of Psycho, The Shining, or even contrast the receptions of the original Cat People and Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake, which took all the repressed sexuality of the original and brought it front and center. Critics hated the latter. It’s one of my top 10 films of all-time – but I can also love the original, even though it’s so understated as barely to qualify as horror by modern standards. There’s room for both, and neither is innately superior. However, it generally takes a bit more skill to provoke an audience reaction with unseen terrors, especially if the viewer has seen their share of genre entries.

Which (finally) brings me to The Eyes of My Mother, a black-and-white film, which I guess is post-horror. For while it tells the story of a family of psychos living in the country, with a fondness for kidnap and torture… This is not exactly The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It starts off as a family affair, with young Francesca living on a farm with her mother (Agostini), a former Portuguese eye surgeon, and father (Nazak). A home invasion results in a death, but the perpetrator is captured, and becomes Francesca’s tormented plaything as she grows into adulthood (Magalhães), honing her surgical skills on him. That turns out to be just the first victim, as Francesca if a firm believer in crafting a new family by abduction.

It’s all too highbrow for its own good, Pesce apparently believing that cutting away from virtually all actual violence, and draining the colour from proceedings is equivalent to art. He’s wrong, for you also need to be a Hitchcock or a Polanski. Although some day, Pesce might reach those heights, this is his feature debut, and the style instead comes over as unbearably pretentious: art purely for art’s sake, instead of serving the story. Not to say it gets everything wrong; the lead performance is deliciously chilling in its utter placidity, going to the other extreme from Texas, and all the more effective for it. But when Chris’s first post-screening comment is, “I wonder how they paid their electricity bill?”, you know that any supposed horror movie (even a post-horror one) has fumbled the ball badly in terms of impacting the viewer.

Dir: Nicolas Pesce
Star: Kika Magalhães, Olivia Bond, Diana Agostini, Paul Nazak

Scars

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“The 19th cut is the deepest.”

Scar (Cole) has anger issues, which we see in the opening scene, where she stabs her boyfriend to death. Scarlett (Kimmel) makes her living by having affairs with married men, then blackmailing them. The two women team up after Scar rescues Scarlett, when one of her extortion targets is beating her up in an alley. The pair subsequently begin an odd relationship, peppered with bursts of brutal violence against men. The police investigation, led by Detective Mike (Wells) passes over them, but Mike begins a relationship with Scarlett, until he begins to suspect that her friend is involved in the string of killings.

There’s an off-kilter style here, in a variety of ways. Scar and Scarlett spend a lot of time sitting around the latter’s apartment watching news broadcasts. These mostly appear to be about the conflict in the Middle East. While unclear, I guess the film is making a comment about male violence on a global scale by juxtaposing it with more up close and personal violence by women? Robb’s visual approach, in his directorial debut, is also a bit different, shall we say. He often seems content to park the camera in a fixed position,. and let events unfold in front of it (or, in certain cases, somewhat in front of it) as they may. He’s a big fan of about half a second of black screen between scenes too, and the use of deliberately inappropriate classical music. Not sure how effective any of this is; for instance, the static shots give a distancing feel, almost as if you were watching on CCTV. Hey, at least it’s making an effort.

That last sentence could be an accurate summary of the film as a whole. It’s clearly trying, and given the limited resources, it isn’t a disaster. But neither was this very successful at holding my interest for the entire duration. There isn’t much in the way of a character arc for either Scar or Scarlett. Right from the start, Scar is the obviously more psychotic one, and Scarlett is better able to conceal and control her impulses. That’s how it is for the rest of the film, although there was a while where I thought we were going down the Fight Club route, with Scar being a manifestation of Scarlett’s darker side.

On the positive side, the two leads deliver decent performances, and the violence – mostly in the form of repeated stabbings with the traditional weapon of movie psychos, the carving knife – is unflinching and credibly brutal. Part of the problem is, we’re not really given much reason to empathize with Scar or Scarlett. While there’s an implied suggestion Scar’s boyfriend is abusive, there’s nothing to suggest the punishment she unilaterally imposes is anything close to fitting the crime. Meanwhile, Scarlett is a manipulator, also depicted without much in the way of redeeming features. The results are watchable enough, yet left me feeling little or no impact, emotionally or intellectually.

Dir: Sean K. Robb
Star: Danielle Cole, Neale Kimmel, Matt Wells, Eric Regimbald

Goddess of Love

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“My super crazy ex-girlfriend.”

Right from the start, it’s established that Venus (Kendra) is not the most mentally stable of creatures, alternating between emotional fits in the bathtub, drug abuse and her day job as a stripper. That’s pretty much the trifecta of Stay Away for any man. But she ends up dating one of her strip-club customers, Brian (Naismith), a photographer who likes Venus because… she reminds him of his late wife. Which as opening lines go, I’d imagine would rank highly as Stay Away for any woman. While initially working far better than you’d expect, that only makes the eventual crash and burn of their relationship, all the more brutal.

It begins when she sees the name “Christine” (Sandy) pop up on his phone, setting off a downward spiral of insecurity and paranoia. Brian admits it’s an old flame, whom he still uses as a model, but Venus suspects there’s a lot more going on than photography. This doesn’t endear her to Brian, who stops replying to her text messages, and tries to end their relationship. Which works about as well as you’d expect – especially if you ever saw Fatal Attraction. Venus decides that the best way to Brian’s heart apparently lies through… Well, Christine’s rib-cage – though getting there requires some ramping up of their rivalry. And it turns out Christine has a vicious streak of her own, when pushed far enough. But how much of what’s unfolding has any basis in objective reality – as opposed to being merely shrapnel from Venus’s disintegrating psychological state?

It’s a tale as old as time, true as it can be: don’t stick your dick in crazy. But it’s still a topic worth revisiting, albeit likely for entertainment value, more than any educational purposes. The movie benefits by a good performance from Kendra, who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Knautz. That likely helps defuse some criticisms of exploitation – while the stripper angle does appear to exist, largely for titillation, Kendra the writer can hardly be exploiting Kendra the actress. On the other hand, it’s not exactly what anyone would call a sympathetic portrayal of mental illness. The only person who shows even some concern for Venus’s plight is colleague Chanel (Scott), and that doesn’t make it to the end of the movie intact.

Still, it’s not unpleasant as potboilerish entertainment, particularly when Christine and Venus start going at it. I also appreciated the gradual slide into a state where you can never quite be sure of the accuracy of what you’re seeing. Everything is experienced from Venus’s point of view (which is where it differs from Fatal Attraction), and the unreliability of that perspective becomes increasingly called into question as the film proceeds. Technically, it’s reasonably sound, though a few rough edges did stick out, to remind me of its low-budget nature. But it’s perhaps best taken as a modern-day version of a morality play: don’t cheat on your significant other, do drugs, or date strippers. Rules we can all strive to live by.

Dir: Jon Knautz
Star: Alexis Kendra, Woody Naismith, Elizabeth Sandy, Monda Scott

Bleeding Hearts

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“Not bleeding awful – but close.”

Stumbled across this low-budget horror flick almost by accident when I was Googling the similarly-titled but very different, Bleeding Heart. The premise was kinda intriguing: five successful half-sisters (doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc), living in a small town, take a month off each year together and vanish off the grid. What the townfolk don’t know, is they kidnap various obnoxious menfolk under the guidance of leader Leslie (Robbins), subjecting them to unspeakable tortures and eventually killing them, before returning to everyday life. Into this town comes documentary film-maker Oliver Jaffe (Diamond), who starts to investigate the odd situation, after his car breaks down in town.

The same director previously made Scavenger Killers, which was kinda like a sleazy version of Natural Born Killers, also starring Robbins – this is similarly low-brow, apparently attempting to be as offensive as possible. If you’re not prepared to cope with a naked man in a cage on his haunches, being violated with a wire-brush, this is probably not for you. Though you’d be forgiven for wondering if there’d been some kind of mix-up with the DVD at the beginning, which starts as a social satire in which Santa (the late Charles Durning, in his last feature appearance), Jesus and Satan share a house, occasionally being harangued by God (Tony Todd). Turns out, this is a film-within-a-film, being made by one of the sisters’ targets this year.

Even as someone who IS prepared to cope with the extreme content, I found the results were actually kinda tedious: if ever a film is guilty of trying too hard, it’s probably this one. There’s no shortage of nudity from the actresses, to the extent I began to wonder if this was filmed in its entirety at an adult film convention. But it’s curiously uninteresting and ineffectual, since you’re never really given any reason to care much. The structure is weird too: there’s so little connection between the two halves of the story, right until the end, I wondered if Diamond and Robbins would ever meet (just as I strongly suspect Todd’s scenes were filmed separately from everyone else’s, since you don’t see him and anyone else in the same shot).

Instead, Diamond’s half feels almost like complete filler: there’s no real sense of “investigation” since the audience already knows the truth about what’s going on. Or, most of the truth, at least. While there’s a last reel twist or two, these are no more effective than most of the other aspects. You may be left to wonder why they bother having five sisters, when there’s no more than 2.4 personalities between them – Leslie, and perky foot-model Candy (Lorraine) being responsible for the great bulk of that. This is one of those cases where I can see how the various pieces of the jigsaw could have been fitted together into something potentially transgressive and interesting. It never gets there though, and the likes of Todd, Durning and even Robert Loggia, who plays the local sheriff, are not well-served by this at all.

Dir: Dylan Bank
Star: Rachael Robbins, Dustin Diamond, Suzi Lorraine, Melantha Blackthorne

Julia X

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“Battle of the sexes.”

juliaxA date appears to go badly wrong for Julia (Azlynn), when her companion (Sorbo) turns out to be a serial-killer who has been using Internet dating sites to find the young women he targets. However, it turns out the tables are eventually turned, for Julia and her sister Jessica (Willis) are every bit as monstrous, who have been luring in and killing men, as a result of the abuse they both suffered at the hands of their father. But Jessica is a bit fed up of taking a back seat to her big sis, and wanders across the street to kidnap a victim of her own (Moore). But Julia’s captive is not exactly prepared to give up his liberty without a fight.

Nice bit of casting against type for Sorbo, whom we’re used to seeing in more heroic roles. He’s quite effective in a Patrick Bateman-esque way (American Psycho, if you’d forgotten), and this is certainly an equal opportunity film, in terms of the copious violence inflicted both on and by women. The last third is not much more than the two leads battering each other forcefully through the entire house, with extreme and escalating aggression. It’s the kind of thing which I should love. So why does it all feel relatively unaffecting and forced?

It may be because the scenario unfolding requires almost industrial strength idiocy from the main characters. Sorbo’s killer, for example, is so sloppily incompetent, it’s a wonder he managed to pull off his first murder without accidentally killing himself. The sisters aren’t much better, and we’re not given much of a reason to root for Julia and Jessica either. I get the feeling the reveal of them being psychos as well is supposed to “matter”, but it has next to no impact at all. The backstory offered for the sisters is pretty trite and cliched too; maybe it would have been better off if they’d begun with that, and we’d been brought along with the siblings on their journey, to the point where murder apparently started to make sense.

What does work, fortunately, is the action, which is well-staged and crunchy. The film doesn’t linger on the pain with sadistic glee, as it could; this is wise, since if the makers did, some scenes would likely be hard to watch. Instead, there’s an almost Looney Tunes element to the mayhem, particularly in the way the protagonists are able to take a pounding, and bounce back with an even more enhanced vengeance, like a human version of an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. On the whole, I’d not have minded at all to see this deliberately outrageous aspect played up, highlighted particularly by a beautifully ironic use of The Carpenters’ soft-pop anthem, Close To You. For the film arguably doesn’t do enough with its script or characters to make the viewer interested in taking them seriously.

Dir: P.J. Pettiette
Star: Valerie Azlynn, Kevin Sorbo, Alicia Leigh Willis, Joel David Moore

Miss Nobody

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“Climbing the corporate ladder can be murder.”

missnobodySarah Jane (Bibb) has been working for years as a unassuming secretary in a pharmaceutical company, and egged on by colleague and best friend Charmaine (Pyle), eventually gets up the courage to apply for an executive position. With some embellishment of her resume, she gets the post, only to have it yanked from under her when a new hotshot arrives. The hotshot makes a pass at her, leading to his accidental death; Sarah Jane has her position restored as a result of this untimely demise, and discovers her late rival had the plans for a wonder-drug with the potential to reverse Alzheimer’s. However, she soon realizes that further deaths will be necessary, both to keep her secret, and also continue her rise up the chain of command. Complicating matters, she starts dating one of the policemen (Goldberg) involved in the investigation of the slew of suspicious corporate deaths, by train, photocopier, gas explosion, etc.  Worse yet, someone clearly knows what Sarah Jane has been up to, and starts trying to blackmail her.

The film could have gone a number of different ways in terms of its approach, such as black comedy – Heathers would be the best example of that approach. However, Cox strenuously avoids the darker tone, opting to keep things frothy and light: there’s little or no doubt, for example, that Sarah Jane’s victims deserve some kind of retribution [although you can certainly argue whether their crimes reach a level where the death penalty is merited]. It does, of course, rely heavily on the stupidity of just about everyone beyond the heroine, the rest of the characters behaving in ways that would only happen in this kind of film. However, the cast are good enough to pull this off, with Bibb endearingly perky in the lead, and getting good support from Pyle (Cleaners), as well as Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) as another corporate rival, plus Barry Bostwick as the local Catholic priest, who has some difficulty coming to terms with the heinous crimes to which Sarah Jane confesses.

I was, however, unconvinced by the ease with which she slides from mouse-like secretary into serial-killing predator. Especially given – or, depending on your view of religious zealotry – even allowing for, her devout faith [she prays nightly before a shrine to St. George, a statue of whom played a formative role in her youth], it’s a slippery slope down which Sarah Jane less slides, than cheerfully sprints. The bubbly approach also seems awkwardly at odds with the subject matter, though the performances help deflect attention from this while the film is in motion. I’d likely have preferred a sharper edge to the corporate satire; there’s no shortage of potential targets there, yet this has about as much edge as a letter-opener, and that limits the impact, turning this into little more than a competently fluffy time-passer.

Dir: T. Abram Cox
Star: Leslie Bibb, Adam Goldberg, Missi Pyle, Kathy Baker

Blood Widow

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“The eighties called. They want their movie back.”

blood-widow_large_800In the slasher genre of horror, the perpetrators seem almost exclusively male: Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, etc. Women can play an important role, and we’ve covered some of them here before – but it’s much more often as the “final girl”, than the one wielding the machete. However, it’s often forgotten that, in the original Friday the 13th movie, the killer was not Jason, but his mother, so there is some precedent for the female antagonist. See also Nurse 3D, American Horror Story: Coven or perhaps best of all, SexyKiller, whose heroine manages both to be the killer and the final girl.

It was in the hopes of getting something novel along those lines that I went into this, only to be severely disappointed by a product which is very little more than a standard slasher. A group of photogenic, but vacuous and tremendously uninteresting, teens head out to a remote house to par-tay, only to break into the spooky dwelling on the next door property, engage in petty vandalism, drug-taking and other anti-social behaviour, for which they naturally pay a heavy price. About the only difference is, the mad, masked killer dispatching them with extreme prejudice is a woman, a former resident of the boarding school next door, who was tormented into psychosis. It’s an idea not without potential: the look of the maniac-ette is very stylish (even if the mask seems a Halloween knock-off), and the actress portraying her (Henry) does a good job, particularly considering her face is rarely if ever seen, coming over as menacing in just about every one of her scenes.

But beyond that, none of the potential is utilized, In fact, the gender of the killer is entirely irrelevant to proceedings, and the final scene seems more appropriate for a male psycho – it left me wondering if perhaps that was the original plan. Really, for a first-time feature, as this is for the director, I’d have tried to push the envelope much more, instead of apparently being content to tread the same ground as we’ve seen a million times before. Maybe this would have passed muster thirty years ago? Now, not so much, with viewers far more cynically self-aware, and wanting more than an uninteresting rehash of its predecessors. Save the gender of the assailant, there’s nothing new or of note here; it isn’t enough, when it’s little more than an afterthought, and everything else we get, has been done a lot better elsewhere.

Dir: Jeremiah Buckhalt
Star: Danielle Lilley, Brandon Kyle Peters, Christopher de Padua, Gabrielle Ann Henry

Loves Her Gun

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“A cautionary tale. And you’re cautioned not to watch this movie.”

lovehergunPerhaps surprisingly, given the nature of this page, I’m not inherently averse to the idea of gun control. I lived in Britain until I was in my thirties, which seems to work fairly well without the whole “right to bear arms” thing. It probably made sense in 1776, but certainly wouldn’t be high on my to-do list if I was writing the constitution now. However, I now live in a country with 300 million guns or so, and I’m pragmatic enough to accept that the genie is out of the bottle here: any attempt to impose it at this point, would only impact law-abiding citizen and weaken their ability to defend themselves against criminals who would still have their weapons. Gun control works – but only if you already have it. Anyway, I mention all this to establish that I’m not averse to a movie which makes a well-reasoned argument against guns. Unfortunately, this is about as far from well-reasoned as imaginable. The facile scaremongering here leaves this mild-mannered Brit, who has touched a gun once in his life, with a strong wish for the makers of this, some day, to find themselves in need of some well-armed help.

Walking back to her Brooklyn apartment, Allie (Dunn) is the victim of a swift but brutal mugging. It’s the last straw for her, and she bails out of the city the next day, hitching a ride to Texas with a touring rock band and its “charismatic” leader, Clark (Barrero). She stays in his house, and gets a job working alongside local landscaper Sarah (Bisagni), but it unable to shake the PTSD caused by the attack. Sarah introduces Allie to the joy of firearms, eventually leading to her purchasing her own weapon for personal defense. However, the presence of the gun turns Allie into a raging Charles Bronson, as we see when she charges into a local domestic dispute, all a-firearmy. From here, it’s painfully if illogically obvious where this is going to end up. Oh, look: Allie getting her hands on a gun turns out to be A Bad Idea, in an incident a third-grade English teacher would mark down as poorly considered. This is my unsurprised face.

The end credits proudly proclaim that the dialogue was largely improvised, which might be okay, if it didn’t seem they also made the story up as they went along too. There are a number of interesting ways this could have gone. Unfortunately, the film chooses none of them, preferring to drive a path through Austin’s hipster scene, populated by “wacky” people, apparently expelled from Portland for being too smug and self-centred. Marslett seems more interested in them than his lead and her story – Dunn is actually not bad in the role, her character at least not leaving me with violent urges. So, we get lengthy, pointless scenes of a tubing trip down the river, or a party where people write their hopes and dreams on pieces of paper, stuff them into a Yoda piñata and sets fire to it. Very deep. Perhaps worst of all, Clark’s band, The Karate Kids, perform behind mannequins posed into the crane-kick move from the film. Was that idea improvised as well? Because I can’t think of any other explanation for it being such complete shit. Hang on: turns out it’s the director’s band. Explains a lot

So much of the running-time here is completely wasted on these self-indulgent excuses for film-making, of interest only to Marslett and his cronies in Austin’s scene. The net result, is that Allie’s transformation from scaredy-cat into vengeful vigilante is so fast as to be utterly implausible. They needed to establish the more problematic side of her personality earlier, rather than making it seem as if purchasing a gun immediately causes psychosis since that’s what guns do. There’s a brief spell, where Allie is taken shooting by Sarah, that does catch fire, capturing something of the awe-inspiring power firing a gun can create, but it’s soon forgotten – because we have to go to the Yoda party! Even to a neutral in the debate like myself, this is a facile and simplistic approach to a subject which deserves a far more complex exploration, from people who aren’t fascinated by an aimless, slacker lifestyle that’s entirely uninteresting or noteworthy.

Dir: Geoff Marslett
Star: Trieste Kelly Dunn, Francisco Barreiro, Melissa Hideko Bisagni, Ashley Rae Spillers

Deadly Innocents

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“Sisters are doing it for themselves.”

deadlyAfter shooting her husband, Beth (Crosby) is sent to the funny farm, due to her split personality, Cathy, who was responsible for the murder. Busting out of the funny farm after Cathy takes full control, she holes up in a gas station, run by Angela (Wyss), who is almost as loopy, albeit in a less murderous way, having been raised by her religious fruitcake father, who just passed away. Cathy/Beth’s resemblance to Angela’s late mother helps cement a relationship between the two women. Initially, it may all be frilly dresses, make-up and feminine bonding, as the newcomer brings the repressed young girl out of her shell. But how long will it be before Cathy is stabbing customers in the neck with syringes? [That’s almost guaranteed to get you a poor Yelp review: “while restrooms were clean, the murderous assault by a deranged member of staff was somewhat off-putting”]

Meanwhile, a local cop (Stevens) is courting Angela, and a local retard (Hellman) – hey, you watch the film and tell me that’s not the most accurate description – is exercising her investigative skills, which appear to be at least the equal of the local force. It’s the kind of the overblown Southern melodrama that’s basically begging for a drag queen singalong version; maybe a remake starring Gina Gershon as Cathy, or at least, Jennifer Tilly. Instead, however, we’ve got to make do with Bing Crosby’s daughter, who admittedly, probably knows a bit about controlling fathers. Here, the main takeaway is a new-found respect for Andy Serkis’s portrayal of Gollum, because watching Crosby switch between Beth and Cathy is cringeworthy. Fortunately, the makers appear to realize it, with this aspect all but abandoned once she escapes the mental hospital, and Crosby makes for an entertainingly loony tune.

However, there isn’t actually much, in content or execution, which will stick in your mind – between a couple of bits of gratuitous nudity, this feels for long periods more like a TV movie, or something you’d find on the Hallmark channel. I did quite like the ending, which I’ll confess didn’t see coming, and is darker than I expected. However, too much of this comes over as watered-down, without the courage of any convictions, and it needed to go a good deal further into the realms of madness, to possess any lasting value.

Dir: John D. Patterson.
Star: Mary Crosby, Amanda Wyss, Andrew Stevens, Bonnie Hellman