Devil in the Flesh August 8, 2011Posted by Rusty in 0-12, devil in the flesh.
I may have been too hard on Magic Beyond Words. Sure, the movie was pointless and terrible. But at least I got through it in one sitting. That didn’t happen with Devil in the Flesh. This film was a slog.
A shame, too, since I was kind of excited for it. Rose McGowan stars in one of her patented bad slut roles from the late 90s. And, sure Jawbreaker was terrible (despite my persistent crush on Fern Mayo), but it was glorious schlock. It’s the kind of terrible that you find yourself watching at 2pm on a Saturday while you’re fighting a hangover. So Rose McGowan plus Lifetime should have been a formula for something even grander. Instead, woof.
The movie opens with a slow shot of Rose McGowan (Debbie) with some late-90s post-grunge blasting in the background. It’s dark. Suddenly there is an explosion. Firefighters rush to the scene and ask Debbie if there is anyone else in the house. She doesn’t answer.
We jump forward a few days later and Debbie is being sent to her grandmother’s after the death of her mom and stepdad. They died in an accidental fire, although the police are awfully suspicious when they find a huge knife in what used to be the living room…
Debbie’s grandmother is a real piece of work. She is extremely religious and makes Debbie clean out all sorts of garages and attics. She also attacks Debbie with her cane if she gets any sass mouth. And, of course, it wouldn’t be on Lifetime if the grandmother didn’t give one of the worst performances I’ve seen in the history of TV movies. This is just brutal.
Debbie is forced to go to a new school in a dowdy dress that goes all the way down to her knee! With no bare midriff! This is clearly a death sentence in the late-90s – I refer you to the unpopularity of the gorgeous Alyson Hannigan in the first two seasons of Buffy – because Debbie is immediately picked on by the tough guy jocks and the blonde queen bees. Right. That is a thing that would happen.
While being mercilessly picked on, Debbie watches a teacher, Mr. Rinaldi, challenge a jock to a basketball game over a grade. So we already know this teacher has boundary issues. He doesn’t have issues TAKING IT TO THE HOLE, so he wins the game. Debbie is smitten.
Debbie makes a fellow alternative friend named Jane (the official name for people who befriend outcasts on their first day at a new school) and they decide to go shopping. And by shopping I mean steal some clothes and drink champagne on the bed of a pickup truck.
Somewhere in there Debbie has a fever dream where she is greeted at her grandmother’s by the charred corpses of the people she murdered. It’s weird.
Now when Debbie goes to school she brings an alternate outfit to change into. It is basically underwear. Suddenly Debbie is popular! So popular that the head queen bee, Meegan becomes her arch-rival. (Yes, seriously, Meeee-gan.) Both have obvious crushes on Mr. Rinaldi and both volunteer to help at his annual garage sale with proceeds going towards the school’s art department. This angers Debbie so she pushes Meegan down some stairs and fractures her leg. Jane seems concerned.
Mr. Rinaldi has sex with his girlfriend and she reminds him they are going on vacation that weekend. Sorry, toots, but this garage sale is just too important! She goes without him and they are fighting.
So the garage sale is as inappropriate as you imagined. First, Debbie shows up at her teacher’s house in hot pants and some kind of devious combination of sports bra and bikini top. And Mr. Rinaldi kind of checks her out. It’s gross. He also allows her to walk in his house without supervision and answer his phone. All the dudes on the block buy shit from Debbie because of that sports bikini and they end up with a grand total of $170. DEFINITELY WORTH DITCHING YOUR GIRLFRIEND ON VACATION, RINALDI.
Debbie comes home to only to be confronted by her grandmother. Her grandma discovered her diary (complete with love poems and flower drawings) and is going to beat the wicked out of Debbie. But not so fast! Debbie defends herself, grabs the cane, and beats her grandma to death. She kills grandma’s dog too.
From here on out, Debbie just amps up her inappropriate behavior. Taking showers at Mr. Rinaldi’s, buying him flowers, stuff like that. At some point she tells a jock that she and Mr. Rinaldi are in love and he tries to sexually blackmail her with that information. Then he tries to rape her. So he gets impaled to death. She makes a lot of snide remarks while staring at his corpse and digging a hole in the backyard. It’s played for humor. It doesn’t work.
Here’s what I don’t get about this movie: Debbie is clearly an insane bunny boiler who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She is a psychotic. But killing her grandmother and her rapist neighbor are heroic killings. They were both abusive and she was defending herself. So why does the movie do that? Who are we supposed to be rooting for? The psychotic avenger or the tattooed, basketball playing teacher with no sense of boundaries? It turns out to be the latter, but then why have every single one of Debbie’s murders be justified?
The coppers finally figure out that Debbie’s parents were murdered and they learn that Debbie has always been infatuated with teachers. When Debbie shows up at a restaurant where Mr. Rinaldi had a date, a fight breaks out. This is the final piece for the cops to figure out Debbie is evil? Somehow?
Debbie barricades herself in her house with a shotgun and shoots a cop. Mr. Rinaldi tries to talk Debbie into surrendering but instead we hear a gun shot. It appears that Debbie has killed herself. Anyone with a brain would know better. I don’t know why Jane was hanging out during a hostage situation, but Debbie shot her face off to fake her own death (VERY X-Files Season 5). Rinaldi figures this out on the drive home and rescues his girlfriend from Debbie’s clutches. But only after Debbie slits a cops’ throat and stabs Rinaldi a couple of times. Debbie gets arrested and that’s that.
Ugggggggh.This movie was directed by a guy who cut his teeth directing Billy Joel’s music videos. The man clearly has no taste. Everything about this was bad. Seriously. Everything. The two points are mostly inflationary since I’m sure I’ve seen worse. I just don’t remember when.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 6
Rose McGowan isn’t nearly as famous as you’d think. After Jawbreaker and before Grindhouse, the woman was in nothing. But Death Proof is so good that I’m ok with not penalizing her too much.
It was also fun to see a Twin Peaks alum (Nadine/Super-Nadine) as the principal and a Seinfeld alum (Jackie Chiles) as a no-nonsense cop.
Only points come from an understanding minority police officer. The antagonist is a woman. (I think? Again, I never figured out the good guy here.) And even though she is physically attacking a woman, she is stalking and harassing a man. And that man wasn’t pulling a Fatal Attraction. He never slept with Debbie. He never led her on. He may have behaved inappropriately, but certainly not so badly as to earn getting stabbed twice.
How did this get on Lifetime?
GRAND TOTAL: 10
Never watch this. It left me with face: