Very Bad Things (1998)

(In theaters, November 1998) A vile, vile, unfunny movie that desperately wants to be condemned by the general moviegoing audience, which I won’t grant. It starts off in Las Vegas, where a very pretty stripper is accidentally killed during a wild bachelor’s party. What follows is a series of increasingly grotesque, bloody and malicious series of cover-ups by the five friends to hide what they’ve done. The gross-out factor is high and blood flows freely. I could have enjoyed that movie a lot if it hadn’t been made as an explicit comedy. The charm (for me) of Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction was that these movies, while tongue-in-cheek, took themselves seriously enough to let the natural dark irony of the story flow. Here, it’s overplayed for laughs. While the remainder of the theatre exploded in nervous laughter and numerous “Oh my god!”, I just wished for silence. There’s a difference between humorous and funny; they missed it. Still, Very Bad Things is well-made, with good characterization and acting, adequate directing and rather effective tension. Still, why couldn’t they have played it straight…? I dislike being told when to be grossed-out, and that’s what Very Bad Things does, with a gleeful gleam in its eye. I’m glad I didn’t pay to see the movie (Free tickets to the Ottawa premiere), and do not recommend it. If you do see it, just don’t expect any of the characters to A> Live, B> remain whole or C> remain sane.

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