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Wild Things (1998)

In the rich town of Blue Bay, Florida, two teenage girls, Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) and Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell), accuse their high school counselor, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), of rape. This accusation disrupts the highly functional town, and nearly everyone around Lombardo struggles to understand how something so heinous could take place in a town where everyone knows one another. As the story behind these three characters unfolds, it becomes clear the Wild Things that people will do for love, money, and jealousy.

Wild Things is full of twists and turns that are a bit predictable, but ultimately make for a good time. Viewers see a series of double crosses and a number of relationships gone bad. As the story plays out and reveal after reveal shocks (and just barely) the audience, those viewers still manage to find the events of Wild Things intriguing. It seems apparent that a great amount of effort was put into developing the events of Wild Things, but there is an aspect of the film that makes it difficult to appreciate those events.

Richards’ acting ability has never been impressive, and, as one of the leads in Wild Things, she fails to entertain. Ultimately Richards exists in Wild Things as eye candy and nothing more; her job is to simply intrigue audiences with her physique, and, sadly, that’s about all she’s capable of doing. Dillon, Campbell, Kevin Bacon (Ray Duquette) and the rest of the cast aren’t much better than Richards, making the film, in terms of acting, quite dull. Nearly everything can fall in place, but the film can still fail if the acting is subpar. There are many aspects of Wild Things that appeal to viewers and have the potential to find success, but ultimately fail as a direct result of the acting.

It’s not uncommon to leave out details of a story to add to the mystery and suspense of a film only to eventually backtrack and unveil those missing aspects to viewers. It is a bit weird, however, to wait until the credits begin to roll. Oftentimes when there are scenes present during and/or after the credits they have little to no bearing on the overall story; this, however, is not the case in regard to the mid-credit scenes of Wild Things. As the credits begin viewers must then watch the handful of scenes in order to understand what has taken place throughout the course of Wild Things, ultimately making sense of some of the more ambiguous aspects of the film.

With as much as Wild Things has to offer, subpar and ultimately disappointing acting makes the film just bearable at times. The story itself is fantastic and the unclear aspects of the film are cleanly wrapped up by the closing of the credits, but, again, the acting so sadly overshadows nearly everything else. Wild Things is surprisingly well written and, honestly, the actors aesthetically fit their roles nicely. Wild Things is an adventure full of surprises that are emotionally jarring, and the writing from Stephen Peters is enough to keep the film afloat.

Directed by John McNaughton. Written by Stephen Peters. Starring Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, etc.




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