Studio: Millennium Films
Director: Malik Bader
Writer: Sonny Mallhi
Producer: Trevor Macy, Mark D. Evans
Stars: Lucas Till, Crystal Reed, Sarah Bolger, Caitriona Balfe, Reid Ewing, Holt McCallany, Camille Guaty, Leigh Whannell
A high school soccer star’s life is turned upside down when the affections of a secret admirer turn dangerous.
“Crush” is disappointing, but not for lack of trying. “Crush” features a red herring so audaciously bold that it would be genius if it were not completely unbelievable. Which is one word that aptly categorizes this movie. While well staged, well cast, and well photographed, it is entirely unbelievable.
Bess is a social misfit who could rival the prom queen in beauty, yet chooses to hide behind frumpy dresses and the hair she cannot stop nervously twirling. Even though the two have never spoken one word to each other, Bess has an unhealthy obsession with Scott Norris, the school’s ridiculously popular resident soccer star. Newspaper clippings and Facebook cyberstalking are only the beginning as Bess’ crush takes a turn towards deadly and bad things start happening to the rivals for Scott’s affection.
And rivals there are aplenty. Bess is not even close to the only girl with eyes for Scott. Jules is Scott’s good friend and occasional makeout buddy. She leaves topless photos on Scott’s phone, but he is more interested in rehabilitating a busted leg so he can play soccer again. The heartbreak is evident on Karen’s face at a post-game party when he only speaks to her to discover Jules’ whereabouts. Then there is Andie, the older woman who works with Bess that cannot stop staring with a smile as Scott jogs into the distance. Even Miss Brown, Scott’s former English teacher, takes advantage of that “former” status by slipping the boy her phone number at a coffee shop.
That so many women are obsessed with Scott is not the issue. The bigger problem is that it is difficult to understand what makes him obsession-worthy to one person, let alone five. Granted, I am not a teenage girl, so I am perfectly willing to concede that my assessment here should be taken with a full bag of salt. Although Scott is shown playing chess with his father and throwing perfectly good pencil sketches in the garbage, the artistic and intelligent sides of Scott are things no one ever sees. His all-consuming focus on soccer seemingly makes him another sports-obsessed jock in a sea of similar types amongst his peers. Since it is revealed that Bess has never spoken to Scott, it is a wonder what makes him so fascinating that she would organize her entire life around his. As the title establishes the film’s premise, suspension of disbelief will allow for one unreasonably obsessed girl, but it is painfully difficult to sign the receipt for everyone to be inexplicably into this guy.
Buying Scott as worthy of a crush is more of a stretch after it is suggested that he might not have a brain in his head, either. When one rival flame openly flirts with Scott in public, Bess immediately calls him out for it, resulting in Scott’s angry demand for Bess to drop it with the creepy stalker behavior. Yet when that rival flame dies three scenes later, it never passes through Scott’s heartthrob head that maybe his jealous stalker was involved.
Scott is not the only character to wear blinders when convenient. Jules pulls back her curtains one morning to find the words “he’s mine” painted on her window. She eventually learns from Scott that a girl at school has a crush on him and her jealousy likely inspired the paintjob. However, when a topless photo of Jules is sent from Scott’s phone just seven minutes of screen time later, Jules’ first assumption is that her friend Scott must be responsible. Because surely that type of behavior would be beneath the jealous girl psycho enough to paint veiled threats on bedroom windows.
“Crush” teases interesting threads, such as the introduction of Jeffrey, Bess’ own personal not-so-secret admirer who rivals her for eerie displays of affection. Giving the stalker a stalker is an interesting twist, but the development of that relationship is not as intriguing as its premise. Jeffrey’s ultimate purpose is far less satisfying than being a true challenge in the psychotic behavior department.
Other ideas that “Crush” flirts with are even less developed. The script forces a relationship between Scott and his father in a manner that rivals Bess forcing a relationship with Scott. When Coach tells Scott that his father forbids him from practicing, Scott gives his father an earful. Four and a half minutes later, Dad tells son to talk to his coach, as it turns out Scott’s tantrum worked. Scott composes a heartfelt text to his father and the whole drama is resolved in less time than it takes Bess to Photoshop herself into a picture with Scott.
“Crush” has been alluded to as “Fatal Attraction” for teenagers. It should be noted that I am a 37-year-old male, and not the target demographic for this PG-13 thriller. While I would like to believe that younger does not equate to more tolerant of unrealistic and less demanding of smarter story development, it might very well be that the high school set will find plenty to like here. The young cast is attractive, the production is well put together, and the twist, however absurd, might be genuinely shocking and entertaining to some. But this is a movie about a crush. And buying into the thin motivations behind this obsession requires a level of crazy reserved exclusively for the characters in this movie.
Review Score: 45