The Temp is one of seemingly millions of “psycho” thrillers inspired by the massive box-office payday earned by Fatal Attraction. (Nothing breeds an unending series of low-rent knockoffs like an unexpected cash explosion.)Over the years following the Michael Douglas/Glenn Close cautionary thriller, audiences were subjected to a non-top parade of ‘psycho in suburbia’ flicks, each one more preposterous than the next: psychotic nannies (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle), malevolent policemen (Unlawful Entry), homicidal husbands (Sleeping with the Enemy), dangerously obsessed teenage girls (The Crush) and (of course) criminally insane lesbian roommates (Single White Female). There have been plenty of others, but most of them take themselves way too seriously – which is sort of ridiculous when you consider that most of them are copies of rip-offs of copies.
One of the more colorfully kooky entries into this overused sub-genre is Tom Holland’s The Temp. It’s a derivative, contrived, and rather silly little thriller, but it’s a film that seems aware of these flaws and still manages to offer some enjoyable B-movie fun.
The plot is as you’d expect: Peter Derns (Timothy Hutton) is an executive at a successful cookie company. When his secretary needs some time off, in comes Kris (Lara Flynn Boyle) to act as a temporary assistant. Kris is beautiful, efficient, ambitious, hard working, and (lest you think this flick is a drama) a raving psychotic. When dead bodies start popping up all over the office, it seems obvious to Peter that Kris is to blame. Logically, in sure ‘silly thriller’ fashion, nobody believes Peter – and he soon ends up a suspect himself.
Hutton is a bit more vanilla than usual, Boyle gets a few minutes in full frenzy mode (which is fun), and the supporting cast is made up of familiar faces like Oliver Platt, Steven Weber, Faye Dunaway and the ever-adorable Maura Tierney. The movie veers dangerously close to ‘destructively silly’ every 12 minutes, but the professional cast (at the very least) keeps things interesting.
The Temp is a wholly ridiculous little thriller, yet it repeatedly goes above and beyond the ‘so bad it’s good’ realm. Fans of movies more goofy and bizarre than intellectual and logical will probably have a good time with this arcane thriller…plus it’s got a few spots of messy gore for those who enjoy that sort of thing.Those who get irritated by plot holes, illogical character motivations, and generally sloppy storytelling will hate it…unless they’re in a silly mood.