Yet another variation on the woman-from-hell subgenre, THE CRUSH fails to come up with many new twists beyond casting a teenager as its villain. Dancing around its own salacious possibilities, the movie is only briefly offensive and rarely surprising.
Arriving in a new city, writer Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) secures a job at Pique magazine and lodgings in a guest house belonging to Cliff and Liv Forrester (Kurtwood Smith and Gwynyth Walsh). The handsome Nick soon makes the acquaintance of the Forrester's 14-year-old daughter, Darian (Alicia
Silverstone), a precocious girl who develops an intense attraction to him. She secretly helps Nick by sneaking into his room and rewriting one of his Pique stories--which subsequently wins a rave from his editor--and at a party thrown by the Forresters, Nick agrees to accompany the lonely girl on
a drive to a romantic spot, where he lets his guard down and kisses her.
This intensifies Darian's crush on Nick, but he quickly wises up and attempts to put her off, having begun a budding romance with co-worker Amy (Jennifer Rubin). Darian continues to boldly pursue him; even going so far as to undress in his view. He continues to rebuff her advances, however, and
Darian's actions become destructive--she defaces a car he's restored and erases his computer discs--yet he's unable to convince Cliff and Liv of what's going on. Cheyenne (Amber Benson), a friend of Darian's who has warned Nick about her, meets with an "accident" at the riding school they attend
together. Then, after Darian spies on Amy in bed with Nick, the girl locks her in her darkroom and empties a hornets' nest into the vents.
Amy survives, and Nick, now convinced that Darian is big trouble, attempts to find new lodgings, but Darian manages to sabotage his efforts. She then accuses him of assaulting her, leading to his arrest; after his editor bails him out (and fires him), Nick is met once again by Cheyenne, who
informs him of a diary Darian kept that can acquit him. When he goes looking for it, he discovers Cheyenne tied up in the attic and is confronted by Darian and then Cliff, who attacks him. Darian, still infatuated, attacks her father, leaving Nick free to subdue her with one punch. Acquitted, Nick
goes to live with Amy while Darian, confined to a psychiatric ward, continues to write him letters, even as she's developing a crush on her doctor.
While 1992's POISON IVY managed to build a good level of tension and even poignance out of a story about a sociopathic, sexually precocious teen girl, THE CRUSH approaches the subject on a much more simplistic level: young Darian gets a lethal thing for Nick, and if she can't have him...
Writer-director Alan Shapiro sets up his premise well enough, and nicely establishes Darian's crush on Nick as a result of her wealthy parents' neglect--particularly in a party scene, where she's put on display at the piano until she's rescued by Nick, the only adult to show her any real
attention. Throughout the film, newcomer Silverstone makes Darian a credible and compelling character, believably evoking her transition from loneliness to obsession to psychosis, and she gives the movie what tension it has.
The rest of the film isn't nearly as convincing, relying on a predictable series of events in which it's clear who's going to fall victim to Darian's wrath and when. At first intriguingly drawn to Darian, Nick soon assumes the role of blameless victim--yet as written by Shapiro and played by
Elwes, he remains implausibly oblivious to the threat Darian poses even when it's abundantly clear to the audience. Evidently, Shapiro didn't want to explore the bad-taste notion that Nick might really be attracted to this young girl, but the subplot about his purported assault on her is handled
with clinical language that's just as off-putting.
This and other occasional intrusions of "adult" material go against the grain of this movie, which appears to be skewed toward a younger audience through its focus on a teenage malefactor and a lite approach in which no one dies, not even (in a switch from genre standards) its villainess. But in
avoiding the disturbing possibilities of his story, Shapiro gives himself little but cliches to fall back on. When this movie was released to video, Silverstone's character was renamed "Adrian" as the result of a lawsuit, and the dialogue re-dubbed accordingly. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: Yet another variation on the woman-from-hell subgenre, THE CRUSH fails to come up with many new twists beyond casting a teenager as its villain. Dancing around its own salacious possibilities, the movie is only briefly offensive and rarely surprising. A… (more)