This above-average thriller, one of those sleepers that sometimes pop up on video-store shelves, folds illicit lust and filial loyalty into a compelling domestic nightmare. Teenager Ellie Christianson (Julia Stiles) is devoted to her father, Ben (William Moses), and loathes her mother, Karen (Chelsea Field), who's been cheating with neighborhood stud Lawson Smith (Patrick Muldoon). Karen also angers her family by capriciously firing the family housekeeper, Lena Anderson (Louise Myrback), an illegal alien who badly needs the job. Then someone bludgeons the unpopular Karen to death with a Greek "Tragedy" mask. Detective Doland (Michael Parks) suspects Ben, but the evidence suggests a bungled burglary and the remaining family is soon back to normal Ben is even considering rehiring Lena. In the meantime, Ellie's dream of having daddy all to herself has come true. She dresses provocatively, behaves like a parody of a wife and grows sullen when Ben starts spending time away from home. Neither Ellie nor her younger, equally possessive sister, Inger (Vanessa Zima), realizes that Ben has been dallying with Lena. But once Lena starts pressuring Ben into providing her with a green card, Inger accepts her as a potential stepmother; Ellie, by contrast, is furious that her plans have been upset and has no use for the interloper. There are even hints that Ben has been less than fatherly with his nubile daughter! Ellie confides in seductive Lawson, but isn't interested in running away with him. As the protagonists' libidos clash, homicide is in the air again. The question is, who will be the next victim? Not since David Lynch satirized suburban lifestyles in BLUE VELVET (1986) has Middle America seemed so inherently ominous! This suspense film tinged with black comedy draws viewers into the twisted perspective of a sexually precocious adolescent warped by family dysfunction.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: This above-average thriller, one of those sleepers that sometimes pop up on video-store shelves, folds illicit lust and filial loyalty into a compelling domestic nightmare. Teenager Ellie Christianson (Julia Stiles) is devoted to her father, Ben (William M… (more)