Very Bad Things

Very Bad Things

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What begins as Swingers Get Married, ends as Blood Complicated. Peter Berg's debut as writer/director takes everyone's worst nightmare and fans it. The laddish banter is not witty, so much as biting. The five guys who go to Vegas for Keith's (Jon Favreau) bachelor party have known each other since first grade, which explains why such disparate characters are friends.

Laura (Cameron Diaz), the bride-to-be, is only interested in wedding day details, particularly seating arrangements, and finds these maladjusted boys in long trousers a pathetic excuse for adulthood. The night in Sin City is as you would expect - gambling, drinking, behaving badly in the hotel room, breaking furniture, snorting coke, playing with a prostitute, making too much noise - until Michael (Jeremy Piven), Adam's (Daniel Stern) brother, gets carried away in the bathroom and kills the girl by mistake. This sobers them up. Adam, being the only married (responsible) one, insists on informing the authorities. Boyd (Christian Slater), who runs his own real estate business and is well versed in the art of persuasion, talks of "a major thin ice situation here" and "options" (cops and trouble versus desert burial and exit stage left).

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Berg doesn't leave them in a Shallow Grave. He maneuvers the plot beyond machinations of cover up into a darker place where paranoia stalks the crevices of conscience and repercussions of what has happened dictates the future of their lives. The ensemble playing is on a level of communication that hardly requires a script, flowing like sick down the front of a summer dress. Diaz is outside and might easily have joined Jeanne Tripplehorn (Adam's wife) on the support bench, if Laura was a team player, which, thankfully, she is not. She is snobbish, demanding, insecure, bossy and self-obsessed. Diaz revels in it. So will you.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Very Bad Things packshot
Things get nasty for a group of friends after a prostitute is killed on a stag night.
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Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Peter Berg

Starring: Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Stern, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jon Favreau

Year: 1998

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

Festivals:

SSFF 2012

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If you like this, try:

Shallow Grave
Swingers