MIND GAMES is a direct-to-video erotic thriller whose melodramatic story overwhelms the film's erotic raison d'etre. Unable to handle its de trop plot twists sensibly, the film exhausts itself on heavy breathing interludes that haven't been properly set up by the screenplay's rising
Reeling from the tragic suicide of his former student/girlfriend Denise (Maria Ford), college prof Matthew Jarvis (Brian Krause) accepts the fresh start which mentor Dean Meyer (Richard Paul) offers at Bryan College. But Matthew's sexual reputation haunts him, and new colleague/feminist professor
Danielle Boca (Raina Paris) unsettles him by affirming then withdrawing her support. Matthew's stability is further shaken when he begins spotting his late lover, Denise, all over campus.
Determined to steer clear of sexual involvements with students, Matthew is caught in a seemingly compromising position when a photographer for the student newspaper drops by just as virginal student Becky (Soleil Moon Frye) is attempting to seduce him. Hearing about this, Danielle institutes
suspension proceedings. After absolving Matthew of guilt in a letter, Becky takes a suicidal, but nonfatal, plunge over a cliff. While she recovers overnight at Matthew's pad, Dean Meyer walks in and misinterprets the circumstances. However, when Meyer later finds Becky's exculpatory letter in
Danielle's trash can, Danielle shoots him and frames Matthew for his murder. We learn that Danielle holds Matthew responsible for the death of Denise, her illegitimate daughter; the "ghost" Matthew has been seeing is actually Tess, a look-alike actress Danielle has hired. Not knowing where to
turn, Matthew goes to Danielle to seek her help. He learns about her deranged plot just as she is about to murder Tess, who wants out of the evil scheme. Becky comes to the rescue with a cop, who shoots down unhinged Danielle.
With its VERTIGO-like plot twists and zigzagging script layering, MIND GAMES could have been a derivative but resourceful revenge tale. Instead, it tips its hand at every turn with unpolished actors who telegraph every surprise. As the villainess of the piece, Raina Paris appears to have graduated
from the Gale Sondergaard school of acting with a major in Eyebrow Arching; at least her hamminess has a self-aware edge and energy. Plagued with thespian deficiencies all the way down the line, MIND GAMES fudges on suspense while concentrating on arousing the viewer with steamy nude scenes. (The
central dirty doings pale by comparison with a segment in which Frye, formerly TV's "Punky Brewster," masturbates while her roommate fornicates in the next room.) As a sextease, MIND GAMES satisfies the easily-climaxed. But as an exercise for mystery buffs, it amounts to unchallenging adult
playtime. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: MIND GAMES is a direct-to-video erotic thriller whose melodramatic story overwhelms the film's erotic raison d'etre. Unable to handle its de trop plot twists sensibly, the film exhausts itself on heavy breathing interludes that haven't been properly set up… (more)