The Film (2/5)
“Yo so what if we remade Kubrick’s Lolita, but we spice it up a bit, give it that Fatal Attraction thing?” – Some studio person somewhere in the early 90s.
The short answer to that question should have been “ew.”
A slightly longer answer – “Seriously dude, ew.”
But instead of those answers, someone somewhere said “Hell yeah!” and now here we are, taking a second look at Alan Shapiro’s creepy thriller, The Crush.
Just to get it out of the way, everything about it in terms of filmmaking feels very made-for-tv. The camera work, the score (the terrible, cheesy, corny-ass score), the direction – it all feels very cheap. To the point where I’m a little lost as to where the $6million budget went. I mean sure it’s passable, if dated, but it’s just…cheap.
But sure, whatever. What really stands out here is just how gross the whole thing is. The basic plot is just Fatal Attraction without any sex – a handsome successful man blurs the lines with an attractive woman, then pushes her aside, and she gets crazy. Except the handsome successful man is a full-grown adult and the attractive woman is a 14-year-old girl. That’s pretty damn bad all on its own, but maybe it has something to say about predatory old men and their senses of entitlement? NOPE! Instead, it’s all superficial “women are crazy” beats that manage to both demonize and fetishize a little girl.
And sure, Adrienne has issues, there’s no doubt about that. But where the script could have taken some time to look at how she ended up that way (spoiler alert: her parents are kind of awful), it instead just turns into a cautionary tale for MEN. “Hey guys, I know these girls are seductive and alluring, but you might wanna be careful, because you could end up like ol’ Nick here.”
Just gonna throw it out there again – ew.
And I know, I know “Oh Jeremy, c’mon, it’s a dumb movie that barely anyone remembers and it’s also 13 years old so really, who cares?” And sure, I mean even the movie doesn’t entirely take itself seriously. It’s a cheap little thriller that told its story, made a few bucks and went on about its business. But to paraphrase Rainier Wolfcastle – that’s the problem. Cheap little sexy thrillers aren’t anything new; the aforementioned Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, everything starring Shannon Tweed that aired after 10pm on Cinemax in the 90s. But here’s the thing, none of them used statutory rape as their superficial plot gimmick. And it’s already bad enough to use ‘crazy scorned women’ as a superficial plot gimmick, but it’s exponentially worse when that crazy scorned woman is a little girl.
Gonna talk a little bit about culture here (and if you just rolled your eyes you’re probably exactly who needs to be reading this), but this is a culture where actual-factual judges sit on actual-factual benches and scold teenagers for seducing teachers. It’s a culture where rape victims are blamed for their own attacks. And make no mistake about it – if everything in The Crush were a real-life scenario, Adrienne would be the victim. She’s the victim of barely-there parents who have their heads too far up their asses to give their daughter the attention she needs. She’s the victim of a TWENTY-EIGHT-year-old man who kisses her before saying “Oh this is a bad idea.” A man who ogles her in her bathing suit. A man who lets himself into her house uninvited, who lets himself into her room (uninvited), who pokes around with her dirty laundry, and who then hides in her closet and watches her undress with rapt, sweaty attention. Here’s a man who’s two steps from THIRTY, who can’t control himself around a 14-year-old, to the point where he’s breaking a whole lot of laws on top of being creepy and invasive, and the film paints *him* as the victim, because a little girl who doesn’t get enough of the right attention (and gets WAY too much of the wrong attention) hasn’t adjusted well? Get outta here. And that’s why this is a problem – because those judges who sit on their benches and blame victims? Those people who are so terrified of false rape accusations that their default position is to do anything they can to discredit *any* woman who speaks up? This is exactly the type of media they grew up watching, and I’d be willing to bet any amount of money that there’s at least one judge, or police officer, or other person in a position of power who literally looks to THIS movie as an excuse to perpetuate that whole mentality.
The only redeeming quality here is Alicia Silverstone, who – despite the script and the direction – manages to find that vulnerability and desperation in Adrienne and communicate them both very effectively all while playing dress-up as a femme fatale temptress (and then later as a fully-unhinged lunatic). It’s a really good performance from someone who was only 15 herself and had never acted before.
Outside of that? The whoooole thing can fuck right off.
You can see it and hear it. The 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer is fine – it’s crisp, but only serves to further illustrate how cheap everything looks. And there’s a DTS-HD 5.1 mix, but there is a phasing issue (which SF mentions up front is due to source material) and the crisp sound remaster *really* accentuates the weird ADR where they changed Silverstone’s character’s name after the fact, but rather than bring the original cast back in to loop in the new name, they just hired random people to dub it over. That’s not Scream Factory’s fault, but even so, it’s bizarre. But, credit where it’s due – SF took a cheap looking and sounding movie and made it look and sound its best.
There are interviews with Jennifer Rubin and Kurtwood Smith. They remember their time on the film fondly enough, but – at least in the final edited version – don’t have anything particularly enthusiastic to say. C’est la vie.
The real problem here, and it’s the same problem that plagues a lot of SF releases, is that – regardless of the quality of what’s said in the interviews – the interviews themselves are poorly produced. Whoever it is that’s editing them doesn’t really have a sense for editing interviews, and as such the sound doesn’t have much of a narrative flow and the b-roll that’s spliced in rarely has anything to do with what’s being said. So ScreamFactory, if you’re reading this – writing Blu-ray reviews is a hobby; I make my daily living as a full-blown producer. Shooting, editing, motion design, the whole shebang, and I’ve been doing it for 15 years. Whomever you’re paying to do these is kind of ripping you off, so pay me and I’ll edit them.
The movie is gross, the package is basic, and other than it being Silverstone’s debut performance, there’s nothing noteworthy about this at all.
Or, in other words – ew.