Quick Movie Review: Wild Things (1998)

wild things

If you take this film for what it is, it’s really entertaining. The plot twists not only surprise you, but move the story in different and unexpected directions each time.

Wild Things is towards the top of the guilty pleasures list for many movie fans. It can often be found right next to Showgirls and Grease. It’s not good because it’s good, it’s good because it’s not. Yet this one has something that those other two don’t–a pretty good story.

The premise starts out with Matt Dillon playing Sam Lombardo, a high school guidance counselor who is framed for rape by Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards), the daughter of the richest family in town.

Right off the bat, the main theme seems to be how even the accusation of rape can haunt you for your whole life. It makes you think that this is where it’s going. Pretty interesting concept. We’re invested. But then it departs from that and proceeds to get absolutely insane.

Spoiler alert: There are a good amount of plot twists in this film. I won’t tell you what they are. But my review references their existence on several occasions.

The name of the game in this film is how many crazy plot twists can they fit into a 2 hour film. I’m not complaining. It’s a lot of fun. You usually don’t see them coming. Even when you think you’re starting to catch on, they throw you another curveball.

The constant twists create an unconventional narrative–placing beats in parts of the film you don’t expect them to be. The exposition is pretty roundabout, rather than being handed to us on a silver platter–even before all the craziness happens.

It’s really not as convoluted as it seems. If you stop to think about it, you can easily piece everything together. As opposed to some films that make themselves confusing so that you can’t see the plot holes. And Wild Things actually seems to avoid most of these anyway.

There’s another girl involved–Suzie (Neve Campbell), who comes out and says that Mr. Lombardo raped her as well. There’s also an obsessive cop, played by Kevin Bacon, and Mr. Lombardo’s attorney, who’s surprisingly played by Bill Murray.

The dialogue is pretty silly at moments, and the acting is marginal. But both Murray and Campbell stand out as far superior to the rest. At times, it’s like they’re reading from a completely different script altogether.

You can almost always tell when characters are lying–almost like the director does it intentionally. And due to the twisting and turning nature of the plot, it’s hard to establish any depth for the characters. The motives are usually suspect at best.

The film’s biggest downfall is perhaps the very thing that makes it enjoyable. We love the who-can-you-trust type of thrill, but at the same time it fails to give us a character we can actually like.

As much as we love that initial plot twist, part of us is sad to realize that everything before it is a lie. But then we realize that this whole film is all about who you can or can’t trust. That nobody is who they appear to be. The basis of liking this film depends on how well you can handle that fact.

Twizard Rating: 83

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