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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SCORNED -- DVD review by porfle

When a junkie hasn't had a hit of his favorite drug in a while, they call it "jonesing."  When a Billy Zane addict goes too long without seeing one of his movies, it's called "Zaning out."  If you happen to be suffering from that right now--and who isn't?--one way to "get well"  is to watch SCORNED (2013).

As usual for this kind of minor thriller, Billy gives the character of "Kevin" just what's necessary, no more and no less.  At first, anyway.  As things progress and the movie starts to get just a little more interesting, Billy seems to wake up and begin taking more of an active part in the festivities.  Okay, not THAT active--he still looks like he's jogging his way to a paycheck, but he's enjoying the scenery along the way. 

AnnaLynne McCord, on the other hand, is giving it all she's got, which (as those who saw her co-starring with Traci Lords in EXCISION well know) is considerable.  She plays Sadie, an attractive but very needy young lady who thinks she's on the verge of becoming engaged to Kevin although she's actually about to get dumped because Kevin's having an affair with her best friend Jennifer (Viva Bianca, whom I finally recognized as the treacherous "Ilithyia" of Starz' "Spartacus" series only with dark hair instead of blonde). 

What neither Kevin nor Jennifer realize is that Sadie's as crazy as an outhouse rat and has just discovered the affair via Kevin's old text messages to Jennifer (such as "I miss UR magic PUSSY "--classy) during their weekend getaway at his beautiful lakehouse.  So Sadie knocks Kevin out, ties him up, texts Jennifer to put on something sexy and come on over, and plans an elaborate revenge for the two of them. 

What has seemed like one of those slick but vacuous romantic thrillers that used to fill time on Cinemax After Dark now threatens to veer into "torture porn" territory, but only along the edges--there's a broken tooth and some crushed fingers here and there, yet SCORNED isn't really interested in either exploring such things or being the kind of exhausting white-knuckle ordeal it might have been.  (Although I did cringe during the re-enactment of a particular scene from  MISERY.)

Instead, writers Mark Jones (who also directed) and Sadie Katz seem to be having more fun simply playing around with the mischievous, crazy-kooky side of Sadie's character than making her some kind of bloodcurdling hell-bitch.  Indeed, aside from occasional bursts of righteous anger and a psychotic need to be loved, Sadie has a childlike sense of humor about the whole situation and is almost flippant at times--such as when threatening to microwave Jennifer's dog Bootsie or devising various imaginative torments for her captives. 

Accordingly, McCord doesn't go for the kind of intense performance she's capable of, settling for giving us the industrious and almost genial psycho the script calls for (while playing up her delightful Georgia accent).  And aside from some clever and mischievous exchanges here and there,  the dialogue is equally workmanlike. 

What makes SCORNED worth watching after all that is the fact that the dumber it gets, the more fun it is.  And when a tattoo-covered criminal escapes from a nearby prison and heads, as we know he will, for an inevitable clash with our girl Sadie, that's when the movie fully crosses over into coo-coo land. 

We've already been primed by some totally unbelievable developments between Sadie and Jennifer that have us reeling, not to mention a scene in which Sadie attempts to electrocute Kevin's eyeballs (complete with bad-CGI smoke).  But when "Scary Guy" (Doug Drucker) shows up and thinks he's got the upper hand with Sadie, it's actually kind of cool the way she uses her own insanity to deal with him without hardly breaking a sweat.  Here, the writers give us a few unexpected turns that keep us interestsed till the totally predictable end.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) with 5.1 sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  No extras.

As a straight revenge thriller, SCORNED is nothing to text home about.  But what might have been just another fix for Billy Zane junkies gradually evolves into a fun little flick that's pretty involving in its own low-key way.  Just don't bother going too far out of your way to see it.

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