Never Talk to Strangers (1995)

reviewed by
Justin Felix

NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS (1995) A "Turkey of the Week" film review by Justin Felix. Copyright 1998 Justin Felix.

Rating: * (out of five)  

Written by Lewis Green and Jordan Rush. Directed by Peter Hall. Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Antonio Banderas, Dennis Miller. Rated R (contains violence, nudity, and profanity) 86 mins.

Synopsis: Blond criminal psychologist Sarah chooses to copulate with greasy Tony the mysterious Puerto Rican rather than bearded Cliff the wisecracking neighbor upstairs. In the meantime, someone sends Sarah rotting flowers, puts her name in the newspaper's obituary column, and kills her cat.

Comments: NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS, a colossal waste of time, moves slower than molasses in winter to arrive at a conclusion which should be obvious to the audience 20 minutes into the film. One wouldn't think that two genuine movie stars, Antonio Banderas (EVITA) and Rebecca De Mornay (HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE), and the acerbic comic genius Dennis Miller ("Saturday Night Live") would be involved in such a celluloid backfire as this turkey. Not only are they in it, however, but De Mornay executive produced it. What was she thinking?

NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS centers upon Sarah, a psychologist examining the ill-tempered Max, a murderer soon to stand trial. She receives a sudden visit from her father which elicits flashbacks of some tragedy in her early childhood. Two men woo her; Tony the "security consultant" wins her over (so they have passionate sex replete with cheesy saxophone music). A lot of psychobabble is thrown around about multiple personality disorder, but the movie asks its audience not to derive the obvious conclusion between mpd and Sarah, and instead offers several male characters as red herrings. 86 minutes, the running time of this cinematic mess, thus, seem like 86 hours.

A good chunk of NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS is spent upon Sarah and Tony. Why would the career-minded, professional Sarah feel attracted to the walking steroid with a black hat called Tony? That's one of the film's mysteries which are never answered. Regardless of motive, De Mornay and Banderas strip down and have sex several times in what passes for eroticism. They also manage to go out before copulating occasionally -- in one of the stupidest scenes of the film, Tony takes Sarah to a carnival that's *right outside* his dingy apartment (that way, they can hurry back and have sex quickly). Also, apparently, the weather changes quickly in their locale: they're at this outdoor carnival one day before having sex; the next day, they're out playing in the snow before having sex.

The filmmakers attempt to produce a suspenseful plot interspersed with Tony and Sarah's "character development." Someone is out to get poor Sarah (though most of the audience should have figured out who before any of this starts). Rotting flowers, a writeup in the obituary, and a beaten neighbor are just a few of the bad things which happen to her. Suspense Cliche Number One also occurs: whenever someone is stalked in thrillers, by any means, if the stalked has a pet, that pet will die. Oftentimes, to even further the cliche, the murdered pet is a cat (suspense filmmakers, for some reason, just don't like cats). Sarah, in NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS, receives a package and, lo and behold, discovers her mutilated cat within. Suspense at its very derivative!

As stated before, NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS is a poor excuse for a film whose sole purpose seems to be exploiting Banderas and De Mornay's bodies as often as possible. Comedian Dennis Miller is completely wasted here (he's not given lines that are suitable for his persona) and doesn't even appear all that much. Maybe, in a way, he's lucky for that. Early on in the movie, Sarah tells Tony, after meeting him in a supermarket, that she had been advised to never talk to strangers. Allow me to advise that you never watch this stinker.

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