Thoughts About the Movie “Naked Fear”

22 09 2012

Yes indeed, I’ve been streaming Netflix movies again with varying degrees of quality. For example, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is best seen after The Artist, whereas OSS 117: Lost in Rio could be skipped altogether.

I try not to let the Netflix reviews sway my decisions when picking movies for my queue but this one had a theme running through it, pro and con: “Gratuitous female nudity.” Hmmm, well I’ll be the judge of that. To the keyboard! /trumpet flourish

Spoilers follow.

First, the unusually wordy synopsis:

When Diana (Danielle De Luca) takes a job as a stripper in a sleepy New Mexico town, she’s unaware that her fellow dancers have been disappearing. The local sheriff (Joe Mantegna) is stumped, but Diana learns the truth when she becomes the next victim. Her abductor takes her into the desert, where he strips her and lets her go. Then, he begins to hunt Diana with a rifle through the wilderness as she flees, naked and terrified.

Naked! There’s that word again.

The Good:

Well, as someone grudgingly admitted somewhere (I think it was IMDb as I usually consult that site while watching Netflix), Danielle De Luca is “pleasing to the eye”. Sure, she’s being hunted down like a wild animal presumably in Nowhere, New Mexico (population: her and the guy chasing her), but details, details.

For being a movie that was made on pocket change, it held my interest and didn’t completely devolve into either a) porn (thanks Google for sending people here who search for “Netflix porn” – how is this page even in the top 10 for that?) or b) cheese. Joe Mantegna clearly was related to someone involved in the film because I don’t know how they’d have landed him otherwise, but he did a serviceable job as the sheriff (deputy?) that doesn’t really think there’s a problem, despite the concerns of his new partner/deputy. Sure, the town with a population of like 4000 has a bulletin board full of missing women, but meh, people come and go, what are you gonna do? That’s really one for “the bad” but I’ll get to that.

(Update 9/24/2012: I don’t have to be right all the time, you know.)

Search terms of the day

My mother must be so proud.

/end update

SPOILER: I was convinced that the punchline was going to be that the “hunting crazed” town had a cabal (including Mantegna) that was involved in naked chick sport hunting, thanks to a red herring scene early on involving “Bambi”. In that sense it really would have elevated the status of this movie as good-guy deputy takes down the corrupt small town and in the process saves the hot naked chick, but I’m glad they didn’t take it that direction. I won’t say what the twisty ending is, though, but it’s semi-spoilery to say there is one.

The character’s motivations seem realistic enough. The strip club owner needs new talent to keep his regulars interested, the sleazy coyote of sorts that brings Diana to the club is about the money, Diana is also about the money and is filed under “oh, honey” (How I Met Your Mother reference), her roommate is about the money but also the heroin, so she’s kind of stuck in neutral, the deputy knows something is up but his wife is worried that he’ll lose this job too, Mantegna is insulated in the small town goings-on and doesn’t care much what happens to strippers and prostitutes, and the bad guy has a thing for hunting. Bonus points that the small town is portrayed as just that, and not overly creepy or skeevy or whatever. People live their lives and oh by they way crime happens.

The Bad:

Come ON, this movie was doing a good job with “the details”, but Diana, running wild in New Mexico maintains perfectly white teeth. That’s one awesome dentist you have there, Ferd.

She also maintains lily white skin despite being in full sun for at least a day. Details, people!

And then there’s the infamous dirty shirt she finds (as in, it is covered with dirt) and after she puts it on, voila (or “wa-la” as they say in Texas) the shirt is nearly white. Oops!

Naturally, if all I can do is regurgitate things that are probably in the IMDb “goofs” section for this movie, it must be Oscar®-worthy. Here’s something I don’t get: If the bad guy is a fool for hunting, and has decided that naked chicks are the new caribou, why is he a) torturing them the night before (not shown but heavily implied) and b) not painting them with stripes or something to make it more challenging? If he wanted to shoot a naked chick, he could have done that at home and skipped all of this hassle. I’m assuming the answer is “he’s a psycho and doesn’t care about that stuff.”

The Ugly:

Not much to say here, thankfully. Some of the dialogue is highly scripty but I’m willing to overlook that flaw relative to how engaging the movie is overall.

The Verdict:

Hot naked chick. Don’t overthink this.

It wouldn’t seem like it would be, but at root this is actually a “girl power” flick, if you stick with it and hang in for the punchline. People were arguing on the Netflix site about The Woman and calling it “feminist” as either high praise or a low insult. More to the point, I think the charge was “male-bashing”. Meh, in either case I think this was more about “the evil that men (and women) do” but good men and women had a hand in changing the outcome.

And a movie like this did make me think: Okay, you’re naked in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. Now what? What would (or could) you do to survive, even if some crazy kook wasn’t shooting at you? The filmmakers made this point subtly but effectively: never mind “man”, nature is even less forgiving.

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