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|Index||40 reviews in total|
Julia Stiles was the main draw for me to see this film, which genuinely lives up to its title (and then some). WICKED is a sneaky little twist on the let-me-be-your-wife-and-I-will-love-you-better-than-mom-ever-did genre, with great performances and excellently fleshed-out (NO pun intended) characters. Highly recommended for that late-night cable guilty pleasure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a Julia Stiles fan, I couldn't resist seeing her in an early "bad girl" role. And she is awfully good being bad. Her mood swings and fits of rage, occasional sweetness - and lust - are amazing for an 18 year-old - I doubt anyone else could have brought this part off at that age. She does the job of a badly disturbed young woman very well indeed. Kudos to Julia. Yes, the plot is close to "Electra" and uses many Hitchcockian type shots - but the film is far too episodic to be a Hitchcock rip-off. And what serious murder mystery does NOT use Hitchock's techniques these days? Remember Brian de Palma? He made a career out of it. Now, the plot has been discussed endlessly here, so, in a nutshell, the film concerns itself with a very dysfunctional family living in a ghastly suburban "gated" community near Los Angeles, cut off from the real world. After the brutal death of her mother, Stiles takes over the family from her weak-kneed daddy - and also his bed. Although there is no overt nudity, adultery plays its part, as does incest. A second murder (Stiles), as well as a detective who gets it ALL wrong help confuse us as to the real question: Who committed the murder of the mother? Well, if you don't want to know stop reading - but so many people have gotten it wrong, I felt I must explain. Everything points to Stiles as the killer - she hates her mother, and so has motive - and she also does a fine job of being . . . well . . . wicked. She commits two violent acts and lusting for her father adds to her seeming guilt. But there are a few clues you should look for here: Her mother was having an affair with a golf freak neighbor, an affair that she ends by telling him that she won't run off with him (and then has sex with him anyway - go figure), then refuses to answer his phone calls (we know they are his as he leaves no message on the machine, not wanting daddy to hear them). When the break-in leading to Mom's demise occurs, it is a golf ball that breaks the window allowing entry. Second, when Stiles goes out in the rain, and down in the basement to find her suitcase, the look of surprise on her face at opening it is a giveaway. We guess what's in the suitcase - she does not know. When her sister discovers the suitcase and what is inside she finds a Greek Drama Mask - with a frown (and a lot of blood). This has been missing and is the murder weapon. The sister looks very horrified - but it gives her ideas. As to the cops, the detective - Michael Parks - in a hard-to-hear scene, has the sense to ask the school principal about Stiles' attendance record, which apparently is OK, as we never hear of it again - giving Stiles an alibi. When Stiles is murdered it is with another Greek Mask - this time with a smile - so there are two murder weapons - the second "smile" mask is on the stand next to where the "frown" mask was, and easily available. BUT NO GOLF BALL IS PRESENT. Obviously the little sister has killed Stiles. But did Stiles kill her Mom? No. Mom was killed by her jilted lover, who broke in by tossing a golf ball through a window, then, grabbing the nearest heavy object (the mask) he bashes her brains in. The little sister is a copy-cat killer, and Stiles suffers her needless "revenge." The plot twists in this movie are a bit disturbing and this is not a film for kiddies. But for a low budget independent flick, it does a very good job of taking us for an eerie, violent, sometimes sexual, but always mysterious ride.
I think Julia Stiles is a beautiful actress, so I was anxious to pick this
movie up when it premiered on video last week. I was hoping it wouldn't be
one of those dumb attempts to capitalize on the success of a now-popular
star (i.e.: "American Virgin" with Mena Suvari). The movie actually
premiered at the Caanes Film Festival in 1998, so I was a little suspicious
as to why they pushed the release date (on video).
First of all, I was pleased to find out that Julia WAS the star. The plot is far from original, and works basically on an entertainment level. However, it has an oddly engaging sense of style that keeps you interested. There are ways to take a formulaic plot, and transform it into something unique and fun--"Wicked" is a fine example. The camera angles, the lighting, the creepy undertones (i.e.: incest) of a seemingly pleasant suburban community, the pacing and subtle comic relief beneath all the tension make this worth watching. This is like the work of a first-time independent filmmaker--and I don't mean that in a bad way.
It's also worthy of seeing the beautiful Julia in a good, early performance. This may not be a masterpiece or even a guilty pleasure worthy of several viewings, but it's a good movie and a good rental.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
I stumbled on this on cable, expecting very little -- and was I ever
surprised! The young female lead was spectacular, and all the main actors
did fine, fine work, even the youngest child. This film deserves a much
My only explanation for the extremely low ratings is the subject matter. The shadow of incest is off-putting to a lot of people, and I suspect many viewers just cannot enjoy a film where the subject matter makes them very uncomfortable. This is not a wimpy film with the predictable moral messages, but a very gutsy, finely-crafted piece of work that keeps you on the edge straight through.
This is a refreshingly different and exciting film that is miles beyond the usual Hollywood rot, and it manages to convey a steamy, dangerous eroticism without nudity or simulated-sex scenes. It takes a real director and some real actors to pull this off. And they didn't have to resort to car chases or gunfights, either.
If you're going to make a picture centering on a seductive nymphette with a fixation on keeping daddy all to herself, then do it with some courage and conviction. All you get here is slick innuendo for what's at the center of a routine murder mystery. If you're going to tackle this kind of subject matter, then TACKLE IT! On the plus side, Julia Stiles has the pouty, child-as-sex-symbol look nailed; and the rest of the cast also give some personality to their routinely drawn characters. All the ingredients for a good sleazy thriller are here, but sadly, it's all aimed at shocking only the most adolescent of sensibilities. Tasteful trash.
Oedipal lolita movies (what a combination) really haven't been done
This movie is not about the horror without (Jason Voorhees,
but the horror within, right down to setting the movie inside a
This is a great little horror movie set as a family drama. However, when it started I was almost groaning - oh no, not another movie aimed at _that_ demographic! When Ellie drives her Toyota (are 14-year olds allowed to drive?) into her gated community and threatens to run away "to Los Angeles" with her pink suitcase again and again, I was seriously questioning what direction the movie was going to take. However, after mom gets offed and Ellie starts taking over her role and even her clothes, things started to get interesting (although I can't believe Julia Stiles and Chelsea Field having the same size, but that's just a quibble).
When ex-nanny (and now lover/wife) Lena tells Ellie that it's just natural to have a crush on daddy and that she'll soon have sex with a real boyfriend and forget all about it, she is exhibiting what in Puritan influenced Anglosaxon cultures would be attempted to be beaten down as "sluttiness" but what in the rest of Northwestern Europe is simply straightforwardness/sobriety/matter-of-fact-ness, etc. I cannot emphasise enough that I liked the Louise Myrback's Lena character _a lot_. No bs, just the facts. I like that.
Anyway. There are lots of "moments" in this movie that defy that normal horror movie chills. When they're all sleeping in the same bed and father Ben calls his dead wife's name and Ellie responds with "daddy...". Michael Parks as the Mark Fuhrman-like character. Just the sort of guy you would like sniffing around your everyday business. Right.
Wicked is a pretty good little entry into the horror movie genre.
1st watched 12/28/02 - 5 out of 10(Dir-Michael Steinberg): Ridiculously unsupported ending blows what for the most part was a very stylish, well acted, well-done horror/thriller movie. Julia Stiles does a superb job with her role of a tortured child with violent tendencies and the direction is sly and cunning, but for some reason the filmmakers decided to throw a curve in the last half hour that works for some movies but for this one destroyed all that had been built up to this point. To tell you much of the story wouldn't really matter because, just remember, the end isn't what is expected or should be unless the actors & actresses are lying to you throughout it. This is basically about a mother who becomes killed apparently by a break-in but through the twists and turns of the story-telling we are being led to believe that one of the children has something to do with it. That actress is then put through the paces and shown to be a definite possibility to the murder even to the point of imitating her mother after her death and definetly wanting to take her place. The movie should have been more about why she wanted to do this but we only get small hints about this. Then, all of a sudden, instead of exploring what I mentioned in the last sentence the aforementioned `stupid' & `meaningless' ending was thrown at us from left field. I think I've said enough, Yes I'm upset.(but I'll get by). Hopefully Steinberg will as well.
Predictable plot here. My husband & I guessed the ending half-way through
There were many "huh?!" moments. For instance: When the heck did Lawson fall in love with the Julia Stiles character? I must have blinked and missed the entire development of that.
The characters competed with the plot for the "boring and predictable" prize. Julia Stiles did a pretty good job with the empty material she was given, but the other actors were not able to do much with their lame roles.
And the incest stuff . . . yuck!
The case to this DVD had some "If you enjoy this movie, you might want to check out" suggestions: The Babysitter, The Crush, etc.; ie, better-developed versions of this type of film. This movie had potential to be a crazy-girl-wreaks-havoc tour de force for Julia Stiles, as the other films were for Alicia Silverstone. It would have been really fun to see Julia Stiles chew the scenery and go on some major rampages.
I'm not sure what kind of person would write the screenplay for this movie. It's very disturbing, having to do with love (not paternal) between daughters and fathers, with a twist of mystery. If you ever wanted to marry your father, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. Also, I would advise, if you are a female, don't watch this movie with your father.
What's the use of watching movies if you're unwilling or too prejudiced to spot a genuinely talented filmmaker, regardless of the genre (or the budget) he's working with? Michael Steinberg shows, in this particular movie at least, that he is such a talent; his virtuosity is reminiscent of De Palma in his prime (think "Body Double"), and some of his subjective tracking shots would put Carpenter to shame. It's true that the script is formulaic and unoriginal (has a great twist ending, though). But thanks to the direction and the good performances in each and every role, "Wicked" is a taut, gripping and occasionally steamy little thriller. Worth a look for anyone with even a passing interest in the genre. (**1/2)
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