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Erotic thriller dulls the senses...

Brian De Palma has often come in for some flak over the years, his penchant for sticking tight to Alfred Hitchcock thriller formula has been the source of much consternation in certain quarters. Yet when you view something like Peter Hall's Never Talk to Strangers it rams home just how welcome it is to have Hitch like thrillers at least done well!

Rebecca De Mornay is a troubled shrink who whilst dealing with the mind games of a serial killing loony (Harry Dean Stanton), meets sexually charged Latino guy (Antonio Banderas) and indulges in passions unbound. Then she starts to get very unwelcome presents in the post...

The erotic thriller has been well trodden, and will continue to be so for sure, so it feels a little churlish to decry Hall's movie for coming off as a weak willed imitator of previous purveyors of the sub-genre, but this blend of Silence of the Lambs meets Sea of Love - cum - Dressed to Kill - cum Fatal Attraction etc etc just comes across as a cheat. And that's because it is!

The makers know this and try to hide their ridiculous folly behind eroticism as the two lovely looking headlining stars get sweaty and wet, indulging in sexual play that's as powerful as the surroundings (Banderas lives in a loft apartment resplendent with metal cage and wrought iron doors). But, or should that be butt? The mystery element is weak, the suspense equally so, while the back story of De Mornay's father (a key character) is hopelessly under developed.

Then there is H.D. Stanton, stealing every scene is he is in, quid pro quo indeed, yet he's hardly in the film, which ultimately proves to be a tragedy as the plot hurtles towards its implausible and risible revelations. Red herrings come and go as quickly as Becca and Tony's underwear (the continuity editor should have been sacked along with the writers because of one scene BTW), and even though Pino Donaggio scores the music with customary swirling qualities, this just comes off as a piggyback tactic...

This is a poor thriller in spite of two very committed and visually attractive perfs from the leads - and of course Stanton's knowingly sleazy turn. Seek this out only if you think Body of Evidence is in the upper echelons of erotic thrillers. 5/10

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