A thin, empty shell of a "romantic thriller"
viewer | USA | 10/18/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In this 1999/2000 movie, a down-on-her-luck-with-men career woman played by Andrea Roth works at an ill-defined sales firm or ad agency for an apparently kinky boss (Rae Dawn Chong). Chong invites her out to party at the raunchy nightclub "Pork." Roth has just broken up with a "needy" nerd boyfriend who keeps calling and following her. At Pork, Roth is attracted to but repulsed by a crass, slick-hair, leather-jacketed, cigarette-hanging-out-of-the-mouth "bad boy" (Linden Ashby).
Soon, Roth returns to the club alone and picks him up. In one of a number of confusing, poorly presented physical scenes over the course of the film, she lets him press against her and hang her over her apartment balcony railing. It is not clear whether this is meant to pass for wild sex or (as Roth seems to gossip to Chong) just elaborate, get-acquainted foreplay for a later session.
Meanwhile back at the office, Chong promotes Roth over two macho jerk co-workers (one of whom Roth is rumored to have dated). Roth comes over to their table at a restaurant, where they are crudely bad-mouthing her under their breath, to try to give them a pep talk. She meets a shy, orange-haired, big-glasses accountant from the firm, who the other two put up to asking her out. He later joins her for a polite dinner at her place.
As the increasingly sluggish movie drones on, Roth gets more involved with the bar punk but then tries to pull back when he grows so rough and possessive that it becomes abusive. The nerdy accountant, a shadowy brother, and the old boyfriend hover in the background. One of the macho jerks from the office ends up stabbed to death. The second soon meets the same fate. A scruffy, dogged young cop starts investigating, with the help of a tomboy waitress who wants more of his time.
Roth's old boyfriend is arrested when a knife turns up in his car, but he claims he had nothing to do with the killings. Chong drops by Roth's apartment to console her depressed friend, feebly comes on to her, is rebuffed, and is later accosted by the jealous, angry bar punk. Another victim turns up, this time strangled in an alley. In a long, labored, violent scene, the psycho killer is confronted in Roth's apartment.
The best that can be said about "Dangerous Attraction" is that slender, strawberry-blonde Roth looks pretty on screen, the cop and waitress are likable and make a cute couple, and there are a lot of suspects to confuse the issue for a while. Beyond that, the movie ends up being a frustrating failure.
Early on, the film uses some touches that seem to hint at depth and creativity (such as Roth's cryptic narration over a hazy bike-riding scene and Chong's odd behavior). It throws in some melodramatic frills toward the end.
But none of this can hide the fact that there is nothing special to the story, dialogue, cast, production values, or sets. The writing is far too thin to sustain the film, which becomes tedious, drawn-out, and overlong. By the time the movie grinds to a halt, with a final "shock effect" scene at a hospital (as much of a tacked-on gimmick as an earlier scene of a figure's silhouette in a wheelchair), you could not care less. The characters and acting are dull and flat, even in supposedly dramatic scenes (especially Ashby's annoying performance). No interesting color or detail is developed about the characters or the settings (their professions are mere window dressing). The detective work is almost non-existent. The film amounts to nothing more than an uninvolving, monotonous, surface-level effort that strings you along for what turn out to be cheap, shallow, trite, predictable, unsatisfying payoffs. The best description of the movie that I can think of is a thin crust of formula with no filling.
There are also amateurish mistakes, going to substance and style, that make the movie feel like even more of a waste of time. A character gratuitously gives Roth the address of that person's apartment, which leads to a key plot point, when there is no way in the world the person would have wanted Roth to drop by. Chong is poorly used in the film. She is relegated to a lifeless performance in a bit part, and is unflatteringly dressed and photographed, making an attractive woman look old and overweight. For some reason, the movie comes up with nothing but drab sweat-suits for Roth to wear in most scenes (including when she hosts the accountant for dinner). And the love scenes are ruined by sloppy, obvious cutaways to a body double for Roth who does not even have the same shape. This is insulting and unprofessional. The movie has no business using nudity if all it does is to make scenes look fake."