By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: She traps her attacker.
Marjorie (Farrah Fawcett) decides to grab a snack late one night at a convenience store. Since she plans on being in the store for only a minute she neglects to lock her car, which is enough time for her would-be rapist Joe (James Russo) to sneak into the vehicle and hide in the backseat. When she returns he attacks her, but she is able to break free and runs out. Unfortunately she leaves her purse behind and he’s able to find her address from her driver’s license. A few weeks later he attempts to attack her again at her home, but she fights back and is able to turn-the-tables on him by tying him up and trapping him in her fireplace. She then plans on killing him by burying him in her backyard as she’s afraid she won’t get a fair trial, but when her roommates (Alfre Woodard, Diana Scarwid) return home from work they try to convince her otherwise.
The film is based on the 1982 off-Broadway play written by William Mastrosimone and starring Susan Sarandon, who eventually got replaced by Fawcett and then later by Lauren Hutton when the play opened in Los Angeles. The play was notorious for its intense violence where the stars would routinely get injured while going through the motions of their parts and audience members would become so upset by it that they would sometimes storm the stage in an attempt to protect the actress. The stage version is also different from the film one in that it doesn’t show the backstory, but instead starts right away with the Marjorie being attacked in the home and then the aftermath.
The film was directed by Robert M. Young, whose best known effort previously was his film version of the stage play Short Eyes about a child molester’s experiences inside a harsh prison. While that film was excellent this one isn’t as he approaches it too much like it’s a thriller with loud, pounding music inserted when Joe attacks Marjorie inside the house, which actually takes the viewer out of the scene. The approach should’ve been more on the gritty side with no music and a handheld camera used to capture the action, which would’ve given the viewer a voyeuristic feeling like they are watching this from some hidden camera.
The scene where Marjorie ties up her killer and then hops into her car to go to the police only to have the vehicle mysteriously not start is ridiculous. This cliché has been used in movies too many times and should be outlawed forever. Had she been in a cold climate we could’ve attributed it to the weather, but she wasn’t. Or if it had been mentioned earlier that her car has had problems starting then it might’ve worked better, but having it conk-out for no reason when it drove just fine before is a total cop-out and a sign of weak writing.
I was also disappointed that no backstory is given to James Russo’s character. Earlier in the film we are shown that he is actually a family man with a daughter, so I was intrigued to see what drove him to have this Jekyll and Hyde personality and how being a father and husband he could justify what he does and yet no explanation is ever even touched on, which I found highly disappointing.
Fawcett is good particularly with her big blue, expressive eyes. I also enjoyed Scarwid’s nervous persona and how she becomes torn at how to approach the dilemma at hand. The conversations between the three women are strong and should’ve been extended, but the film as a whole misses-the-mark and isn’t as riveting or groundbreaking as it could’ve been.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: August 22, 1986
Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
Director: Robert M. Young
Studio: Atlantic Releasing Corporation
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video