Thursday, 10 August 2017

TBT - Very Bad Things (1998)


As I mentioned on Tuesday, I have seen quite a few comments recently bemoaning the fact that Rough Night is basically a female remake of the 90s film Very Bad Things. I don't know how, why or when I saw Very Bad Things but I was probably far too young and channel hopping late at night. I can't say that I remember it all that fondly and didn't see that there would be a problem with a film taking a similar premise using female actors instead.Apparently, I didn't count on a load of random people out there who believe this to be the best film of all time. According to the fan reviews on IMDB this is best dark comedy that has ever been created. I just didn't buy it.  I mean, we all know that standards for films were lower in the 90s. Joel Schumacher's Batman films are all the evidence you need for that. So I decided it was time to revisit the film and see if I'd forgotten the brilliance somewhere over the years. I doubted very much that I had but what is life if you aren't willing to take risks, right?

Very Bad Things introduces us to groom-to-be Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) who is in the final stages of planning his wedding to fiancĂ© Laura (Cameron Diaz). Whilst Laura is obsessively planning her dream wedding, Kyle and his four friends are eagerly awaiting their trip to Vegas for the bachelor party. Their night in Vegas quickly becomes intense as the group partake in a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol. After best man, Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), arranges for a stripper/prostitute to visit the guys' hotel room, a wasted Michael Berkow (Jeremy Piven) agrees to pay her for sex. Unfortunately, the encounter leads to the hooker's death and the men clueless on how to deal with it. Michael's brother, Adam (Daniel Stern) wants to phone the police but, after also killing a hotel security guard, Boyd manages to convince the group that their only choice is to bury the bodies in the desert. Unable to forget what has happened in the run up to the wedding, each of the men become more and more unhinged and Boyd becomes more willing to make deadly sacrifices to cover everything up.

Very Bad Things starts off as a pretty interesting premise. A group of men let off too much steam and end up with a body on their hands. Things quickly get out of hand and the narrative just ramps up the pressure to a ridiculous rate. What could have been a funny, dark comedy just becomes more and more absurd as it moves forward. It just reeks of desperation and ends up feeling a little sad. It's certainly not funny as most of the situations it tries to create humour from are just uncomfortable. There's a whole sequence revolving around Jewish beliefs as the group prepare to bury the bodies that is played out as if it's funny but it feels anything but. There is so much questionable humour on show here: potentially racist, sexist, and just plain offensive material is frequently introduced as grounds for comedy. I'm all for humour that raises questions but these aren't the kind of questions I need to be raised. 

The question I need answered is this: who thought this film was a good idea. Very Bad Things has so much confidence in its abilities to be funny that there were times when I thought there must be something wrong with me. Aside from a handful of funny moments early on, which were all thrown away without a second thought, there was nothing here that made me laugh. It's main aim seems to be shock value, which is why things get so unnecessarily dramatic and bloody as the story moves on. The narrative doesn't make sense as it stands and the tone really doesn't make it effective enough. It is a film that struggles to be one thing or another. It wants to be a tense and violent thriller but also a side-splitting dark comedy that pushed the boundaries. It fails to be either and just ends up being a bland affair with a huge fake-blood budget. And the less said about the ending the better frankly. 

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