Studio: Anchor Bay
Director: Mark Jones
Writer: Mark Jones, Sadie Katz
Producer: Charles Ison, Lance Thompson, Martin Sprock
Stars: Billy Zane, AnnaLynne McCord, Viva Bianca
When an affair is revealed between her boyfriend and her best friend, a disturbed woman exacts revenge against them both.
Hell hath no fury like the movie “Scorned.” That unoriginal groaner was the planned opening for this review when it was presumed that the film would be a destined-for-obscurity “Fatal Attraction” clone with an attractive cast and little else. It may still be destined for obscurity, but surprisingly, “Scorned” is an entertainingly trashy mix of soapy Lifetime drama and sleazy Cinemax sexiness in service of a guilty pleasure revenge thriller with B-movie appeal.
The story is a shovel into concrete when it comes to breaking new ground. AnnaLynne McCord is a pill-popping head case named Sadie whose sultry ways make it easy for men to overlook frequent flashes of wild-eyed mania. Mental illness mixed with jealousy finally boils over when a tryst is revealed between new boyfriend Kevin and lifelong best friend Jennifer. Emotionally snapped, Sadie takes both betrayers captive and walks her two prisoners through squirming recreations of torture scenes ranging all the way from “Misery” to Abu Ghraib. There may be nothing novel in that basic setup, but it is the execution in the acting that makes “Scorned” worth watching.
90 minutes makes it a lean affair, no pun intended, with only the three primary actors on hand for the majority of it. Anyone other than AnnaLynne McCord and Billy Zane carrying the lead roles and “Scorned” would be a far more arduous viewing experience. Zane and McCord are actors who have both turned in better work in better movies, but what they show about their talent here is a knowledge for how much investment they need to put into a film of this caliber.
They don’t play their parts as camp, and they don’t play them as strictly serious either. The duo elevates some otherwise mill grist material with full-bodied performances and a thick streak of just enough exaggerated loopiness to let casting agents know they are not dimwits oblivious to the film’s surreal tone. McCord and Zane are keenly aware that they are not remaking “Gone with the Wind,” yet they are also not half-assing their efforts and appear to enjoy the gaudy sides to their characters.
Also clearly having a good time are co-writers Sadie Katz and Mark Jones, who also directs. The major plot development involves a face-tattooed escapee from a conveniently nearby prison whose involvement in the main storyline takes an unexpected turn. Side scenes moving him closer to the house on the hill where the torture takes place are one sore thumb after another. And yet, the outrageousness is strangely dismissible as somehow in keeping with the baffling lunacy of everything else going on in the film. You can almost see Katz and Jones squealing with glee as they commit their mildly insane plot to paper, undoubtedly daring each other to actually make the crazy movie they are envisioning.
They make it to the finish line, although there are stretches where even those turning blind eyes towards holes and hamminess can see a sputtering engine low on gas. Yanking teeth and breaking legs of the same two people for an hour and a half covers a limited amount of distance. “Scorned” smells the staleness ripening and offers distractions in the form of a chili-making next-door neighbor and the aforementioned travelogue of a hitchhiking convict. It smells of desperation to fill out the runtime unnecessarily and to break up the main narrative, probably because that is indeed the only reason for being.
“Scorned” is simply one of those movies where knowing what is in store going in makes all the difference in ultimate entertainment value. It may not have the big screen classiness of an Adrian Lyne sex thriller, but what it lacks in polished charm, “Scorned” makes up for with entertaining moments from two stars stamping stereotyped characters and recycled story beats with unique imprints of colorful personality.
Review Score: 65