December 1st, 2014

IT CAME FROM THE THRIFT STORE: SLIVER (1993) ** ½

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Before the flick starts up we get trailers for Indecent Proposal, The Firm, and Addams Family Values. We also get a plug for the Sliver soundtrack. There’s also a reminder to stick around after the movie for UB40’s music video, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”.

After the success of Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone starred in another erotic thriller written by Joe Eszterhas. Comparisons to Basic Instinct are inevitable. While that film wasn’t great, it had a lurid brazenness that made it worthwhile. Silver on the other hand is kind of a slow burn type of movie. It works up to a point, but it is pretty much undone by a truly lousy ending.

Stone plays a lonely book editor who moves into a swanky apartment building. William Baldwin owns the building and has high-tech video surveillance equipment installed everywhere so he can watch the tenants’ every move. A pushy neighbor, played by Tom Berenger, tries to put the moves on Stone and she brushes him off. Instead, Stone hops in bed with Baldwin, which gets Berenger all kinds of jealous.

Directed by Phillip (Patriot Games) Noyce, Sliver has a couple of standout sex scenes that make it worth watching. Stone has a pretty good bathtub masturbation scene, as well as a couple sexy pairings with Baldwin. (The New Age-y music on the soundtrack definitely added some sizzle.) Although these scenes aren’t as over the top and memorable as the ones in Basic Instinct, Stone is quite good in them. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Baldin made her fork over her panties while eating dinner in a ritzy restaurant.

Although the erotic moments play just fine, Noyce botches the thriller-type of scenes. The last act is a total washout too. Test audiences hated the original ending, so the producers changed it at the last minute. While it wraps everything up, it still feels incomplete and leaves the audience feeling cheated. I won’t spoil it for you, but you know something is wrong when the same character is the red herring AND the killer.

Silver also suffers from Been-There-Done-That Syndrome. It was based on the novel by Ira Levin and like Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, it involves one woman’s paranoia about the neighbors in her apartment building. Also, Baldwin is merely doing a thinly-veiled tweak on the voyeur/creep character he played in Flatliners. Naturally, you feel a little déjà vu from Basic Instinct too because both films revolve around Sharon Stone having sex. Then again, that’s the kind of déjà vu I don’t mind having.

I might be in the minority on this one, but I think Stone is sexier here than she was in Basic Instinct. That’s because she’s playing a vulnerable woman who slowly yields to her sexual desire instead of a vampy sexpot who flaunts her sexuality willy-nilly. Even though Baldwin doesn’t have much personality, it’s fun seeing Berenger going over the top. The supporting cast, which includes Colleen Camp as Stone’s horny friend, Martin Landau as her boss, and Polly Walker as her sexy neighbor is solid.

Noyce apes Hitchcock whenever possible, and manages to throw together some nice sequences. I particularly liked the scene where Stone at first shuns Baldwin for his voyeurism and then becomes engaged by it. However, the pacing is often erratic, and the frustrating finale prevents Sliver from crossing over into *** territory.

Next week’s Thrift Store erotic thriller is Body Shot.