Daily Archives: February 6, 2014

The Fourth Man (1983)

the fourth man 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: She kills her husbands.

This movie is just about the ultimate in the femme fatale genre as it deals with a temptress (Renee Soutendijk) who marries men who all end up dying in freak accidents. Now she has seduced a fourth one, will he be next?

It is rare to say that you know it is going to be a good movie from the very moment it starts, but that is the case here. The film’s opening could very well be one of the most impressive of all-time as it begins with a startling view of a close-up of an actual spider trapping a fly on its web and then devouring it to the sound of a pounding electronic score that becomes the best part of the whole movie.

The rest of the film works pretty much on the same level with scenes that are provocatively lit and designed as well as a running sensuality that at times is both erotic and perverse. The flowing narrative jumps between reality and dreamy imagery that eventually blend into one and has an underlying subversive nature that keeps you riveted.

The characters are interesting because they work against their gender stereotypes and have a certain ongoing duel with each other. The woman has short hair and a square face and almost comes off looking like a man. She knows how to use her seductive powers and is always in complete control without ever showing any vulnerability. The man is weak and helpless while trying to mask it with an arrogant intellectual veneer.

The ending is the film’s only big letdown as it is too low-key and doesn’t match the energy of the rest of the film while also wrapping things up a little too nicely. A big showdown between the two main characters would have been much more satisfying.

The special effects are weak and help to expose the film’s low budget, but the film is still fun with a snazzy art house flair that became a breakout picture for director Paul Verhoeven.

The movie also contains a shocking scene involving a life-sized crucifix that some may consider blasphemous even though in the end the film’s message is actually spiritually affirming.

the fourth man

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 24, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated NC-17

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Studio: International Spectrafilms

Available: VHS, DVD