Eroticide (2013)

eroticideDirector and writer Matthew Saliba has managed to amass an interesting and unique body of films that delve in to the underbelly of sexuality. Sex, pain, and death always seem to go hand in hand. He usually has a keen eye for detail and provides wonderful statements about excess and revenge, but “Eroticide” really is a step down for the director.

The detail and eye for the artistic almost seems lost in the hand held camera direction that makes the movie feel like a stage play and less like a dramatic thriller. Nothing really adds gloss to the narrative, and it could actually have helped in this case. “Eroticide” is very steeped in the cynical storytelling of Neil Labute, a writer who always shows how cruel humans can be. But with “Eroticide” much of the acts performed seem inexplicable and almost forced. The opening confrontation with character Yan’s ex seems to be alluding to something very crafty, but it never quite pays off.

There’s a lot of focus on the power women can have over men and how they can ruin them, but there’s not a lot of depth to the characters. Yan is one dimensional, Elise feels like cannon fodder for the ultimate resolution, and Kendra never quite shows why she’s so lusted after. Granted, she has confidence and charisma, but what about her makes Yan crumble to a shell of a man? Saliba can never quite point out that element to where the audience can say “Now I get why he’s such a spineless worm around her.”

Kelly Di Capa is beautiful, but her performance is stilted and over the top. She has no real presence to her character, and her actions feel justified on black and white evil more than something rooted deeper. For all intents and purposes, Stephanie Van Rijn is equally beautiful and is a scene stealer, while Jocelin Haas is very good as this jellyfish of a man who is helpless against Kendra’s allure no matter how cruel she is. “Amy’s in the Attic” certainly demonstrated the brilliance director Saliba is capable of, and I’d love to see something like that again, soon. “Eroticide” is not his best picture, which is a shame because he can pack a punch when he’s hit the right beats.