Scorned (2013)
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Scorned (2013)

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There is an old adage that states "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" another group that might be included are fans of thriller styled movies when confronted with an example of the genre that fall short of fulfilling the most fundamental tenants of the genre, eliciting thrills. The eponymous film ‘Scorned ‘is such an example. It contains the necessary elements but didn’t gel properly; a certain spark of life is missing. It is a shame since an inordinate number of recent thrillers have come to depend on loosely bound supernatural circumstances often in lieu of any solid semblance of plot, character development of style. The filmmaker, Mark Jones was in fact part of that supernatural movement as the creator of the ‘Leprechaun’ horror franchise. to balance out his career in an eclectic way was through providing teleplays for a variety of series encompassing sill sit-coms like ‘ALF’ , science fiction fair, ‘Superboy’ and ‘Misfits of Science’ and decade defining action shows, ‘The A-Team’. This variation in subject matter does demonstrate a degree of flexibility at is quite admirable. He directed this flick and co-authored it with Sadie Katz, another screenwriter who has touched upon working in a number of types of projects after building a career on the other side of the camera. The basic theme examined here is arguably one of the oldest and most persistent in history; infidelity. Love is a powerful emotion but when a person deeply in the grips of love is betrayed that emotional state can overwhelm the individual and eclipse all reason.

Sadie (AnnaLynne McCord) is such a young woman in love. Kevin (Billy Zane) is an older man but Sadie was certain that what they shared and lasting. That is until circumstances began to arise to prove that romantic notion was a complete fabrication. When she discovers he is having an affair, adding insult to injury, with her best friend, Jennifer (Viva Bianca), Sadie is heartbroken, distraught and angry. At one time such a revelation would be made through a tell-tale smudge of a shade of unfamiliar lipstick on her man’s collar or finding a book of matches from a motel. This film at least takes the mode of initiation into the twentieth century technologically centered culture. Sadie fined deleted sexting messages on his phone incriminating Kevin and Jennifer. This situation under normal circumstances is hazardous to the relationship but there is twist here greatly escalated the accusations. As it just so happens Sadie has a medical history of emotional disturbances and psychological instability. In terms more in line with the common parlance of the genre, Sadie is on the precipice of being classified bat guano crazy.

Let’s face facts here, a slap in the face or setting fire to all his belonging would barely make the back page of a neighborhood newspaper; impossible to drive a thriller flick. Sadie was horribly mistreated under the thin veneer of treatment. In her childhood Sadie was subjected to electroconvulsive shock therapy while confined to a mental health facility largely staffed by sadist resulting her more intensely and dangerously insane. All that is required ant this point to provide an impetus for a thriller is a target for Sadie to concentrate her deadly delusional thoughts. This is where the story takes a decidedly ill-advised path. Rather that remaining in the steady realm of a psychological thriller the movie swerves over to a horror flick, in particular to the rather recent popular variation of horror films lamentably referred to as torture porn. The fundamental element of this sub-genre is the mindless infliction of pain and suffering often by overly elaborate albeit effective and imaginative means. The sexting messages are uncharacteristically crude and juvenile as an exchange between adults. Sadie relies on Sadie locating and incapacitating and luring Jennifer to their beachfront clandestine love nest.

Sadistic Sadie has a very specific plan for dealing with such a blatant demonstration of faithlessness. If there is one thing this pretty but psychologically perturbed young woman learns during the years of confinement to that institution was equivalent to a graduate level course in torture and she was an excellent student. Not much of the film’s running time is devoted to the initial phase of the hunt and apprehension; it gets fairly right to the point of confrontation and retribution. Considering Ms Bianca and Mr. Zane spend a considerable portion of their screen time tied up the do quite well in turning in a proficient performance. Zane has undertaken just about kind of character an actor could assume. From little independent films to massive blockbusters like ‘Titanic’ Zane has made a career out of blending the understanding of humanity most frequently seem in a journeyman character actor with the ability to hold a movie as a leading man. He does far better than most actors would in a film like this. Her methods are fundamentally old school and straightforward channeling the techniques founded by Tomás de Torquemada. Building on the classics Sadie takes some dentistry tips from ‘The Marathon Man’ returns to a perennial favorite, smashing the legs and ankles to ensure her audience remains for the complete treatment.

Ms Bianca has become a very familiar face thanks to her performances in the Starz original ‘Spartacus’ cable series franchise. Premium cable networks like this afford an actor the opportunity to hone their skills with intensely powerful projects. The lack of the usual restrictions imposed by the thematic and content restrictions traditionally imposed by the network’s standards and practices divisions fosters a creative environment that has repeatedly produced a generation of exceptional actors. Ms McCord gained much of her notoriety in prime time soap operas such as ‘Nip/Tuck’ and the reincarnation of ‘Dallas’. Using those series as a foundation she has been extending her range considerably with challenging independent films. Check out her performance in ‘Excision’ were Ms McCord holds together a surrealistic and visually fascinating film.

While this film apparently had a budget of fewer than two million dollars the money was fairly well utilized. The underlying story and performances carry the movie far better than you might initially think. The special effects are used to reinforce the focus of the story permitting the performances to be the predominant means of relating the tale of betrayal. If it wasn’t for the outright torture overwhelming the entire production this movie could have come closer to its potential as a thriller. The cast had the talent to successfully pull off the crazed betrayed woman if only the writers trusted themselves to remain on track.

Posted 02/06/2014

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