Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sexy Evil Genius

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of two types of movies – found footage horror flicks and ones that are set up like stage plays. I don’t have a preference to either all that much, both have their high and low points as well as their merits and detractors.

Based on the current crop I’ve viewed I’m going to give the advantage to the stage play variety. Character oriented, all plot and no flash. Simple is better.

Unless you’re Sexy Evil Genius.
A group of three strangers (Seth Green, Harold Perrineau and Michelle Trachtenberg) converge at a bar to reunite with an ex-lover (Katee Sackhoff) they all have in common that has just been released from prison for murdering her last boyfriend.

This movie wishes that it was Albino Alligator or even Reservoir Dogs and it fails miserably. It all takes place in one location (a blues bar) and features a small cast that do nothing but argue amongst themselves for ninety minutes. It certainly fits the profile of a stage play style film, but the writing is weak and the performances are uneven, sometimes going into high cheese territory.
I normally like all the actors that were cast here. Seth Green (It, the Austin Powers trilogy, Robot Chicken) is a smart and extremely funny actor. The filmmakers try to tap into that occasionally and most of the time it doesn’t work. He also isn’t the best dramatic actor out there. Michelle Trachtenberg (Harriet the Spy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) can be a little grating on the nerves depending on what project she’s in, but here she’s pretty subdued and not all that interesting. The only angle her character was given to set her apart from the others is that she’s bi-sexual. Harold Perrineau (The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, Lost, Romeo + Juliet) is the most capable of the bunch, but here he’s bland and looks uninterested, a first from him as far as I can remember. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Riddick, Halloween: Resurrection) is always a toss-up. Everyone knows in Battlestar Galactica she was more than a little amazing, and proved to fans of the original show that she was the best Starbuck ever. But when she sucks, she sucks hard, just check out Halloween: Resurrection. Her performance here is more of the latter. She seems manic and as if she’s trying way too hard to light up the room with her faux aloofness. It doesn’t work and I felt bad for her. The less said about William Baldwin the better.

Although I will admit that it is hardly their fault...
Writer Scott Lew (The Dead Zone) comes from television scripting and it shows. Everything has a sitcom type of feel to it regardless of the fact that this is supposed to be a drama/thriller. His characters are written a little too broadly with not enough depth to separate each from the other and the twists and turns the story takes are predictable and kind of dumb.

Even though the script was weak, a decent director could have interpreted it in such a way to make it at least halfway interesting and entertaining. Unfortunately that person is not Shawn Piller. He comes from The Dead Zone as well, which explains Anthony Michael Hall’s brief appearance as Sackhoff’s murdered boyfriend. The problem is that this is treated as if it were a television movie. I don’t mean an HBO one, I’m talking Lifetime. It looks generic and is filmed about as flatly as you can possibly get. It is also so damned darkly lit that I had a hard time seeing what was going on at times. Twists that should have been shocking come off as silly and the performances he coaxes out of his thespians are pretty bad as I mentioned before. He needs to go back to television with his pal Lew.
One thing I did appreciate is the inclusion of the band My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. They were always a favorite of mine from the 90s and it was nice to see them get some love after all these years.

If you are looking for a smart, classy and fun indie film featuring some recognizable faces… look elsewhere. Sexy Evil Genius is as vapid as the characters that inhabit it and is a waste of your time. If the only positive thing I can say about a movie is that they play a song by a band that I like you know you’re in for troubled waters.

Sexy Evil Genius? More like Butterfaced Indifferent Dumbass.

1 out of 5

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