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Deborah Kara Unger
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A group of friends head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party.. only things go wrong and a woman is killed. Soon, the bodies are piling up and the friends find themselves turning against one another as the coverup builds. Written by
Very Bad Perhaps. Very Good Yes. But definitely nothing in the middle. Very Bad Things will antagonise most. It's certainly not the comedy it's touted to be. It's uncomfortable and it's fascinating.
Very Bad Things is a cautionary tale about the war of the sexes, the battle of consumerism. It's about collateral damage: Friendly fire is liable to take out just about anyone in the suburbs if a wedding is at stake! It's about people who have lost heart, who have forgotten what's really important.
Five male friends are off to Las Vegas for a stag party. The bride stays home to continue the wedding preparations; to plan her day of days. Accidentally the boys kill a prostitute in their hotel room and decide to hush it up, bury her in the desert to avoid the unpleasantness of an investigation. And then the body count mounts.
The boys, and later, just as viciously the bride, take the pragmatic road. That same "let's get on with business, people don't matter" sort of morality that will allow a President to lie to Congress and get away with it, cricket champions to cheat and then be made Captain, politicians to sacrifice their citizens for the sake of overseas companies, and murder to be acceptable as long as no one finds out about it. It's not how you play the game, but you must win.
The boys are pretty average types really except for Robert Boyd (Christian Slater, who was let out of prison to do the shoot!!!). Robert Boyd is a Men's Support Group graduate. He's into self fulfilment and asserting himself but is also the catalyst that tips these average men into horror. The other dominant personality is the bride Laura played by Cameron Diaz (There's Something About Mary). Her single mindedness is astounding. (Cameron Diaz is an astounding actress! Watch her eyes.)
But what is " average" in these suburbs. And what about the pressures that go with paying the mortgage and keeping the wife happy? Very Bad Things finishes with a slow overhead shot of the suburb that has become hell for this lot. The tones are dirty grey. The mood is bleak and hopeless. The residents have sold their souls for a white minivan and a posh wedding. The pressures of keeping up with the Jones have had casualties.
There are continual references to being 'a loser' in the film. Even Kyle's Dad in the Toast To The Groom at the wedding refers vividly to his son's dismal failure as a school football player. The men are liable to crack.
Very Bad Things is about the pressure cooker male bread winners are living in. The fear of failure is lurking menacingly near by. The men in the film appear to be doing reasonably well from a fiscal point of view but when the pressure rises, the girl in the hotel room dies, horrible things happen with Boyd egging them on.
The editing is ferocious, the characters are vivid and the mood is very wry indeed. Don't expect to laugh much but hell, paying the mortgage isn't much fun either.
Men have been reacting to the mess they are in in the 90's but I would say that writer/director Peter Berg doesn't think much of Men's self help groups. Slater's Robert Boyd has twisted self assertiveness to his own ends. These suburbanites commit horrendous crimes, but still, we should all consider what the men in Very Bad Things are up against.
The phrase "you do love me don't you" from the women in their lives has never sounded more manipulative.
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