She's Crushed (2009)

shescrusheddvdDirector Patrick Johnson’s horror thriller wants to be an amalgam of “Fatal Attraction” and Takashi Miike’s “Audition,” and while both ambitions are admirable, neither of those classics rise to the surface to add entertainment value to “She’s Crushed.” While Natalie Dickinson is infinitely sexier than Glenn Close, “She’s Crushed” is never quite sure what to do with itself nor is it clear which character we’re supposed to be following. At times we’re told the entire ordeal is Ray’s where he’s forced to deal with alcoholism and memories of his days serving in the military, all the while coping with a new neighbor who gets the idea Patrick may be in love with her after a torrid one night stand. Apparently Ray didn’t receive the all too important memo that women can get that impression.

For a majority of the film’s narrative we follow Ray as he tries to outwit and fend off villain Tara’s advances while trying to keep his romance with his girlfriend Maddy alive. This involves bland confrontations and the ultimate duping by Tara who has him by the balls the minute he bows to her threats. Ray is the protagonist but isn’t all too interesting a character hence why Johnson zeroes in on the character of Tara following her exploits for the final half of the film, rendering Ray an after thought, as she lures and baits victims in to her house and engages in disturbing torture and lobotomies. And through these effective montages, Johnson channels Miike to the extent where audiences will be turned off immediately.

She dresses almost like the character Saya, she monologues very much like Saya, and there’s even an instance where she paralyzes a victim and tortures them as they lay helpless. Failing that, Johnson then borrows from “Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer” closing the film with a mysterious case we know is just filled with her last victim. “She’s Crushed” is much too caught up with flash and dazzle to create an original story, and when it tries to actually tell it’s story, it doesn’t do much except yank whole devices from other better films, and leave us immensely underwhelmed by the lack of empathy we feel for every character in this piece.

Ray’s war flashbacks ultimately add nothing to the film and hold little relevance to the resolution of the film, and garnering flashbacks of her own, Johnson is never quite sure if he wants to make Tara in to a villain with a tragic background, or just a scowling monster we should want payback against. There are even allusions made that Tara could all be a figment of Ray’s traumatic war history, that’s never actually realized and completely ignored once Johnson falls back in a simple torture, and chase finale that ends on a thump and clunky symbolism. Director Patrick Johnson has admirable ambitions toward his film trying to squeeze in his own original premise that’s sadly overpowered by his incessant need to rip whole scenes from better films, but the stale characters, utterly unfocused narrative, and hazy intentions toward his main characters make “She’s Crushed” a ninety minute practice in redundancy.