By the lowly standards of both the erotic thriller genre and Roger Corman's New Horizons, this is a better than average effort, although photographic cliches and an arbitrary plot resolution keep this tale of an undercover policewoman who becomes attracted to her prey from achieving much
more than a passing grade.
Boston police Det. Alice Redmond (Athena Massey) enjoys sex on the rough side with partner Det. Don Holroyd (Cyril O'Reilly). Redmond and Holroyd's encounters are not nearly so rough, however, as the man who killed a woman and left her mutilated body in the park. The prime suspect is Darren
Metlick (David Chokachi), who answered the woman's personal ad and wrote her letters describing the B&D games he wanted to play. With no evidence against him, the police use Alice as a decoy.
Alice is surprised to find Darren an intense but intelligent man whose kinky desires are linked to a fascination with the Romantic painters and poets. As she gets to know him and sees his reaction to abuse from vigilantes who think he is a murderer, she comes to suspect that he is innocent. This
distresses Don, who is monitoring Alice's meetings with Darren via an electronic bug. On the verge of abandoning the case, Alice agrees to meet Darren once more, but drops her transmitter when she gets in his car. As the police race to find her, he takes her to a lighthouse where he was raised by
an abusive father. Finally persuaded of his innocence, Alice agrees to make love to him. Don bursts in and furiously attacks them both. Darren beats him unconscious and, shocked to discover that Alice is a cop, admits that he did murder Mary. As he is having sex with her, Alice seizes his knife
and stabs him to death. Distraught by his dying words--"I love you"--she quits the police force.
While this is hardly new ground for a made-for-video movie, SHADOW OF A SCREAM stands apart from most entries in the erotic-thriller genre with a plausible depiction of a man whose desire for intense physical passion may take him as far as murder. Equally surprising is Alice, a woman who is both
attracted to and repelled by domineering sexual partners, and unsure where to draw the line. Even the nudity, a genre requirement, is relatively nonexploitative. But SHADOW OF A SCREAM is mired in a conventional suspense plot, with a conclusion that seems more arbitrary than it ought. Nor is it
helped by the cheesy New Horizons house style, with its choppy editing and so many hazily backlit interiors that the whole thing appears to have been filmed in a burning building. It is also excessively gory, although the effects are too poor to be believable. Although it is set in Boston, the
film was made in Ireland, with Irish funding. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: By the lowly standards of both the erotic thriller genre and Roger Corman's New Horizons, this is a better than average effort, although photographic cliches and an arbitrary plot resolution keep this tale of an undercover policewoman who becomes attracted… (more)