Swimfan (2002)

(In theaters, September 2002) Say what you want about this being a “Fatal Attraction teen rip-off” and you’d be right, but it doesn’t really mitigate the surprise that this is, in fact, an adequate thriller. Sure, the dialogues are lame, motivations are nebulous, plot contrivances abound and you can see so-called “developments” coming a mile away. But everything is helmed with some confidence, even some professionalism, and the overall result can hold anyone’s attention in the most basic way. Jesse Bradford manages to keep his dignity, but once again it’s baby-faced Erica Christensen (as the motiveless antagonist) who steals the show with a flashy role. Do try to ignore, though, the super-technology, the omnipotence of the antagonist and the ridiculous “artistic” touches. The plot steals liberally from every psycho-bitch film ever made, even though none of the teen characters have much of a psychological background (nor deep enough affective stakes) in order to make it work. (Act like a pretentious cinema critic, and you’ll see this as post-modern irony or kids playing stalker-dress-up. In this case, is it characters pretending to be older, or the audience wishing they were?) No surprises here, except for the fact that it plays much better than you’d expect it to.

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