A pre-stardom Alicia Silverstone stars in this sleazy Nancy Drew detective update for the '90s. Slobbering for that pulpy Quentin Tarantino touch, this untaut thriller seems less concerned with creepy-crawly suspense than in exploiting ultra-misogynistic brutality.
Eager to pick up the baton of her late policeman father, amateur crime-solver Mary Giordane (Alicia Silverstone) frays the nerves of friends and family by trailing serial killers in print rather than teenage boys at local dances. Her self-anointed sleuth status begins to stick in the craw of Jerry
(Bill Nunn), a father figure/detective, particularly after the murder of Kathleen Donlevy (Alissa Dowdy), the younger sister of Mary's classmate Margie.
When a carnival plays town, Mary jumps to conclusions and investigates a roustabout, Earl Parkins (Michael Bowen), who has a possessive ex-wife/employer and pubescent girlfriends like Sherry Tarnley (Ann De Varney). Feeling a kinship for rookie cop Tony Campbell (Kevin Dillon). Mary proudly shares
covertly-acquired data about the killing with him. By the time a second corpse pops up, incriminating evidence points to Earl, although a missing blue Malibu used by the murderer can't be traced to him. Despite mistrusting him, Mary is drawn to Tony by their love of detective work, and winds up
losing her virginity to him.
After the case is closed by Earl's convenient hanging, Mary finds the killer's car in Tony's shed. Confronting Tony at Earl's trysting place, a recycling plant, Mary survives his barbed remarks but Jerry loses his life defending her. The encounter ends for good with Tony, now identified as the
serial killer, falling into the jaws of a recycling contraption. Mary lives to become a policewoman.
Although the frisky presence of Silverstone spills enough glue to hold this junior league police procedural together, the movie succeeds neither as a challenging whodunit nor as a fling-with-a-rotter romance. There's no sense of erotic chemistry between Silverstone and Dillon. Far more detrimental
is this flick's inability to jazz up its suspect line-up. As soon as we spot Tony gabbing to two giddy schoolgirls, we can see the JAGGED EDGE symptoms beading his brow. While TRUE CRIME can't be dismissed as dull, it doesn't keep the audience on tenterhooks either. Morally dubious, this manhunt
for a serial killer includes a graphic flashback of a victim being forced to drink bleach. Given the blistering cruelty of Tony's final denunciation of Mary and the gratuitous torture-killing and some other nasty bits of business, TRUE CRIME may prove of interest only to fanciers of Sadian cinema.
Others may reject these nasty flourishes as window-dressing for a rather obvious whodunit that will fail to satisfactorily flummox armchair detectives.(Graphic violence, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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