Those in search of a wickedly sexy video thriller need look no further. Co-stars Andrew Stevens, who revolutionized the direct-to-video soft-core marketplace with his NIGHT EYES series, and Shannon Tweed, the guilty pleasure of many a high-minded critic, team up for a well-crafted
suburban nightmare in which pay-back time always arrives in bed.
Businessman Truman Langley (Dan McVicar) is so driven to succeed that he procures his wife Patricia (Shannon Tweed) for visiting big-shot Mason Wainwright (Stephen Young). When he's bypassed for a partnership despite closing the Wainright deal, Langley shoots himself. Patricia vows to avenge
herself on the family of Alex Weston (Andrew Stevens), the corporate star who snagged her late husband's promotion. Fortunately for the sly Patricia, all is not well in the Weston clan. Alex is estranged from his sedative-dependent wife, Marina (Kim Morgan Greene), and demands too much from his
sensitive son Robey (Michael D. Arenz), who's neglected by his folks but expected to win admission to a fine prep school. Posing as tutor Amanda Chessfield, Patricia charms her way into the household, fooling everyone but cynical maid Belle (Perla Walters). The vengeful widow supplies Marina with
pills, exploits the woman's dependence on her, and eventually manipulates her into bed. Next she educates Robey in the boudoir, adding some extra-curricular instruction in rebelling against one's parents. When watchful Belle proves obstructive to her plans, Patricia arranges a fatal fall on the
basement stairs. After taking time out to gun down Mason Wainwright in his home, she seduces Papa Alex on the billiard table, deliberately provoking Robey's hatred for his father. Alex discovers Patricia's true identity while going through Truman's effects at the office and races home, just in
time to prevent her from orchestrating Marina's suicide. Alex pushes Patricia out the bedroom window but evidently she escapes; though they're safe from immediate harm, Alex and Marina have yet to realize that Patricia is now staying with Robey in his dorm room.
What really lends an edge to the psychosexual dynamics of SCORNED is its persuasive portrait of the dysfunctional but likeable Weston family. Their weaknesses, depicted with a degree of sympathy unusual in the genre, make the success of Patricia's machinations plausible. Even the widow's
monstrous revenge scheme is adequately motivated: after a lifetime of sacrificing for a big break that never came, Patricia is driven to expose the Westons' suburban dreamworld as a sham. Revenge by orgasm becomes a kind of feminist rebellion for this newly empowered woman; maybe she should have
been made a partner in the firm.
Unlike other similar sex-driven thrillers, SCORNED doesn't haphazardly ditch its suspense build-up every time it turns us into voyeurs. The sex scenes are part of the script's fabric; erotic stimulation is a key element in undermining the family's shaky solidarity. The only misstep is the
handling of the Wainright homicide, which is dropped into the scenario in the most off-handed manner. Far more intriguing is the film's ambiguous climax. What will be Patricia's next move: destroying Robey through a life of dissipation, goading him to kill his parents, or simply turning up on the
Weston's doorstep as their daughter-in-law? Ultimately, SCORNED seems to suggest that sexual self-discovery is the best revenge. Look for the moment when Patricia taunts Alex: "Your son's better in bed than you; for that matter, so's your wife!" (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensivenudity, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: Those in search of a wickedly sexy video thriller need look no further. Co-stars Andrew Stevens, who revolutionized the direct-to-video soft-core marketplace with his NIGHT EYES series, and Shannon Tweed, the guilty pleasure of many a high-minded critic, t… (more)