(Graeme Campbell, 1988)
This slick horror-mindfuck about nasty people engaged in a perversely circular murder plot is "witty" and "intelligent" - it rubs your nose in its cutesy cleverness. For a while it's amusing and disconcerting how everyone talks openly and twinklingly about their sinister plans, but a horror movie can't survive on irony alone; every time there's an opening for actual emotional engagement you get shoved back to arms-length, and eventually you just stop caring. The cocktail-party smugness also smothers any potential for actual sensuality in the film's disarmingly omnipresent sexual rhetoric, while the tentative stabs at discourse on the mind-body split only call attention to the fact that Campbell is no Cronenberg in the visionary perversity department. The main selling point is Jan Rubes, having a field day as the opera-singing brain surgeon patriarch, but in situ even he gets cancelled out by the smirking Kevin Hicks, who acts like he's auditioning for a cop show. Lead schemer Lydie Denier just can't keep her clothes on and does keep a straight face, but her gold-digger routine is too stupidly transparent to be convincing. The big ending isn't much of a surprise and doesn't land with the intended wallop, not because we don't 'care about the characters' but because by then things have become so utterly lopsided toward flash and effect that character is barely relevant.