Bad Influence (1990)

A Failed Experiment

When you encounter a bad movie, the tendency is to just blow it off. After all, most folks are largely incompetent at what they do. But if you check the credentials of the people involved, you have to think again.

The writer has written successful movies as well as fine ones. “Snake Eyes” is great until the end, a fine examination or watching for us to watch. And “Panic Room” is an experiment in making a building a character.

The director has written and directed films that show he understands the mechanics of noir, the very thing being tinkered with here. Spader has been involved in several noir-bending adventures, always as a contributor.

What went wrong? The pitch certainly would have been “noir personified,” specifically by mixing in the “visitor that changes lives” genre. Noir is when a man or couple get accidentally caught up in mischievous fate, fate that seems to actively play with their lives.

A well established derivative is the “omniscient serial killer” genre, which to some extent puts a face on fate. “Funny Games” is a similar experiment in building calmly human dervishes. But it is an entirely different matter to make fate a friend. That’s what’s attempted here. It may be possible, but not the simple way that’s tried here.

The minor fold here is that fate uses film (video) in the two events around which the story turns.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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