Romantic-thriller is a funny little cinematic category. It can often lead to a silly film, but when done right, it can also result in something decent, such as “Basic Instinct” or “Fatal Attraction.” However, it seems like it’s the former that happens most often, giving us a film that really all you can do is shake your head at the events that it’s trying to portray in a serious manner. For those of you who have seen Alan Shapiro’s “The Crush” from 1993, you’ll already know very well what I mean, and if you haven’t, well, you can just laugh along as we take a look at this long-forgotten entry in the genre.
The film begins with Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) moving to Seattle to start a job as a researcher at a magazine. He finally settles on a guesthouse that’s on the estate of the Forresters, who happen to have a very precocious 14-year-old daughter named Adrian (Alicia Silverstone). At first, Adrian just enjoys hanging out with Nick, but it soon becomes clear that she has a very strong attraction towards him. Nick tries to let her down easy, but she just won’t have it, leading to a dangerous infatuation with serious consequences.
Generally, there’s not really anything wrong with this setup. It could certainly lead to a number of tense situations that could bring about major trouble for Nick, especially with him being twice Adrian’s age. However, the main issue that Shapiro’s film has is its distinct lack of believability. There are a number of events contained within the film that are simply not plausible, and if the audience isn’t able to believe it, there’s not going to be much of a chance of them being able to get engaged with the narrative.
For instance, early on, when Nick spurns Adrian’s advances, she scratches an obscenity on his newly-painted car, an act that would signal just how crazy she is to any other man. However, this apparently is not quite enough for Nick, who decides to stick around in the guesthouse and try to get on with his life. Of course, Adrian’s reign of terror doesn’t end there. Nick does finally start to look for other rooms to rent out after things get worse, but the major question remains, why doesn’t he just go to a hotel until he can get things settled? Well, the easy answer to that would be that the film would be over pretty quickly if he did, so we have to somehow go on believing that he never thinks of this option on his own.
There are also a number of events involving Adrian that never ring true, including the fact that somehow nobody saw her scratching Nick’s car, the fact that her parents never seem to be home, her somehow being able to contain a large number of wasps, and being able to get people’s addresses really easily. With every twist and turn that Shapiro tries to provide in the plot, you’re much more likely to be shaking your head and/or laughing, rather than feeling any kind of tension that he’s so desperately trying to build up throughout his tale. Given the fact that this is not billed as a comedy, we have to assume that this is not the reaction that he was going for when he wrote the script.
However, it’s not all bad thanks to Alicia Silverstone’s chilling performance as the obsessed Adrian, which is made even more impressive by the fact that this was her feature film debut. The screenplay may not provide the film with any tension, but she certainly does her best to try to get some into it anyway, and she does succeed in part. It really ends up making you wish that the rest of the film had been up to her level of commitment. Some credit must also go to the usually-dependable Cary Elwes. He had already starred in the classic masterpiece “The Princess Bride,” and would star in Mel Brooks’ hilarious “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” in this same year, showing that he has a great sense of versatility as an actor. Granted, he isn’t given all that much to do throughout “The Crush” besides panic and try to deal with this bizarre situation, but he does an admirable job nonetheless.
That being said, the performances are not nearly enough to save a film that merely piles one dopey development on top of another. Shapiro wants it to be tense, scary, and engaging, but his weak writing skills don’t allow any of these things to happen. What we’re left with is a laughable romp that would have most likely played better as a comedy, and by taking advantage of its absolute silliness, at least left us with something a little more memorable, instead of a goofy film that tries to take itself far too seriously.
“The Crush” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. As usual, Scream Factory has done a marvelous job of restoring the video, making every frame look perfectly sharp and clear. As noted at the beginning of the film, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has some phasing issues, which lead to some of the sound effects sounding a little strange throughout the film, but it’s nothing too bothersome. Otherwise, it’s a decent track that presents most audial elements in fine quality. Overall, the film has been given pretty good treatment, leaving little room for improvement.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Alan Shapiro: An informative commentary track that has Shapiro taking you through the process of how the film came about and other interesting tidbits.
Interviews with Kurtwood Smith and Jennifer Rubin (23 Minutes): A pair of intriguing featurettes that have Smith and Rubin reminiscing about making the film and how they became involved.
Alan Shapiro’s “The Crush” suffers from a distinct lack of believability, turning what should have been a tense and horrific tale into a laughable mess. It may contain a wonderfully creepy performance from Alicia Silverstone (in her feature film debut), but it’s not nearly enough to save a film that will leave you shaking your head at its multiple absurdities.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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