Dead Man's Curve

Dead Man's Curve


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When a script comes dancing across campus to be greeted with delight by audacious young actors, the party's already begun. Dan Rosen wrote the gourmet murder spoof, The Last Supper. He likes his comedy dark.

Here's the scam - if your roommate commits suicide, the college is obliged to offer straight As to ease the emotional shock. These kids haven't been working. They've been playing. And since their aim is Harvard, top grades are essential. Someone's gotta kill themselves. The question is, who's the sap?

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Tim (Matthew Lillard), Chris (Michael Vartan) and Rand (Randall Batinkoff) are roomies. Tim thinks Rand's a jerk the way he treats his girl, Natalie, not that bullying women, or behaving badly when drunk, bothers him. In fact, it makes him laugh. Tim likes nothing better than subversive behavior. Chris, on the other hand, is slow to take initiative, while Rand is so self-centred, he doesn't have time to worry about other people's feelings.

Tim plans Rand's suicide. Chris goes along with it, because he's a goer along, even though he doesn't want to. They check out the school shrink for giveaway signs. What CDs do depressives listen to? What books do they read? She tells them (The Smiths, Joy Division, etc) and then adds, "I'd always be suspicious of anyone who underlines passages from "The Bell Jar". Tim finds this hugely amusing. Chris is so tense, he can't respond when his girlfriend comes onto him. Natalie, meanwhile, discovers she's pregnant: "I'm a junior, Catholic and Canadian," she whimpers, as if damned forever to everlasting hellfire. Rand reacts typically: "You're nothing but a small town whore." Tim reckons the time is right. Rand must die. By his own hand. First, get victim drunk. Second, lead him to the clifftop. Third, leave suicide note. Too easy?

Rosen's script is dazzlingly witty, capturing the crazy, wild careless brilliance of sick minds. The plot is never satisfied with homicide, plain and simple. It has to be twisted, so that nothing can be taken as seen and no-one entirely trusted. Lillard has Jim Carrey's ability to make a virtue of restlessness. He has an equally expressive face that was under stricter control in Scream. Rosen gives him more scope to play mind games.

He dominates the others with an intensity that is hilarious and frightful. Here is an actor who makes villainy attractive, while Rosen is a writer/director who leaves his calling card at the Coens door.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Black comedy sees teens find it's murder to get into college.
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Director: Dan Rosen

Writer: Dan Rosen

Starring: Matthew Lillard, Michael Vartan, Randall Batinkoff, Keri Russell, Tamara Craig Thomas, Anthony Griffith, Bo Dietl, Kevin Ruf, Kevin Ruf, Ben Livingston, Kris McGaha

Year: 1998

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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