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Deadly Little Secrets
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by Brian McKay

"Deadly Dull and more than a little dumb"
2 stars

I find myself on the horns of a dilemma that I'm sure every critic must face at some point. See, this movie is my first "freebie". That's right, the production company was kind enough to send me a copy of this so that I could review it for them. So, I feel a certain twinge of guilt, since I'm about to bash the hell out of it. But I'll try to bash nicely, rather than go about it in a nasty fashion reserved for pieces of shit I had to pay to see.

To be fair, Deadly Little Secret does have a few things going for it, which I will discuss in turn. The biggest problem I have with it, however, is that the writing is so atrociously bad. Dialogue is stilted, characters are walking cliches, and the plot makes bugger-all sense. This is the kind of low-budget straight to video fare that has enough talent and budget that it could have actually been a decent film with a clever, or at least coherent, script.

Someone is killing high-profile athletes, both professionals and olympic hopefuls. Not just anyone, either, but a former doctor specializing in sports medicine. Gordon (Craig Sheffer) was once a prominent doctor on the professional scene who was disbarred for slipping steroids and other chemical cocktails to his patients. After he was kicked out of the A.M.A., he disappeared and started killing jocks with lethal injections. Now the cops and F.B.I. are looking for him, including suspended cop Cole Chamberlain (Dylan Walsh). See, Cole's brother was an up and coming football player who, of course, was killed by Gordon. Now he's on the revenge warpath. Meanwhile, he's been shacking up with Stephanie Vincent (the lovely Dina Meyer), partly because he likes her and partly because she may have had ties to Gordon. Cole hopes she can lead him to the killer.

Out of the blue, Stephanie's "sister", Kyra (Michele Hicks), shows up to cause trouble. No sooner has Cole picked her up at the bus station when they are the victims of an attempted carjacking by a masked assailant. She quickly pulls a gun and blows the guy away, then convinces Cole (the cop, remember?) to just drive away without calling the cops, because she can't afford a parole violation. Naturally, the cop decides to go along with this stunning plan.

If this plot synopsis makes any sense so far, it's only because I've sifted through all the extraneous and convoluted bullshit in order to present you with something halfway-coherent. These characters don't make sense. Their actions don't make sense. Their motivations, when they appear to have any, don't make sense. My long list of nitpicks with the plot include the following:

1)Why would the F.B.I. only have two agents actively assigned to such a high profile case?

2)Would federal agents really stage a carjacking with an armed civilian and live ammunition, just to involve Cole in their case? (I know it doesn't make any sense here, out of context. Believe me, it doesn't make sense IN context, either.)

3)If Cole were really suspended, and he was shacking up with someone who may be a material witness, wouldn't he be arrested for interfering with an investigation he was forbidden to take part in?

4)Since the cops know the killer's identity, and he obviously still has a large ammount of assets that could easily be traced, then why are they so inept at finding him?

5)Once they find his house, wouldn't the feds send in more than a handful of poorly-armed agents (but with big-ass flashlights).

6)Once they'd surrounded the house, does anyone even remotely familiar with the concept of police procedures believe that the cops would send their men in one at a time so that the killer could easily dispatch them individually?

I could go on, but really, besides the convoluted plot and illogical characters, the police-related aspects of this film are the most annoying. It's as if the writer had zero familiarity with police procedures and tactics. Hell, anyone who's ever watched an episode of Cops has a firmer grasp on the subject matter. For God's sake, man, if you're going to write a crime thriller where cops play a prominent role, then do some fucking homework.

I mentioned a few plusses. The biggest one is Dina Meyer. How she ended up in this dreck (and without top billing, even) is beyond me. I don't know why, but I've always liked her - as both an actress and as a hot chick. Hell, I've been in love with her since she flashed her cans in Starship Troopers - but I also took a liking to her because she was one of the few people who could actually act in that film. The same applies here. I don't understand why she isn't getting better roles than this or the extremely short-lived Birds of Prey on the Dubya-Dubya-Dubya-B network. She is a genuinely beautiful and talented actress who is infinitely easier to watch than some vapid A-list slag like J-lo or Julia Roberts. She deserves better than this. Why she hasn't had a decent role to sink her teeth into since the days of Starship Troopers or Johnny Mnemonic is beyond me. However, I can't say I minded the three psuedo-lesbo scenes she has with Hicks - save for the fact that they show no nudity whatsoever. Another bone of contention - if you're going to make a pricktease film where someone shags every ten minutes, at least show some goddamn skin.

As for the supporting cast, well, none of them are in the same league of Dina's talent, but they're not horrible either. Even scenery-chewer Sheffer could probably have risen to the occasion and made for a semi-interesting villain if the script were up to it. Hicks and Walsh are mediocre, but again, I blame the script more than them. At least Roger Cross and Rene Rivera give decent performances as the F.B.I. guys, despite the fact that their characters are so woefully incompetent. Everything else, from the directing to the production values, are fairly competent if not exceptional.

But that script. That fucking script. Jesus.

So, on the bright side it's got Dina Meyer, it's got Dina macking on another girl, and . . . well, that's about it. I can't really think of much else to recommend it. Like I said, I hate to bash a freebie that someone took the time to mail to me (with a hand written note, even). But sometimes, even when it's free, you end up paying for it.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7305&reviewer=258
originally posted: 03/12/03 20:55:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  11-Feb-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Fiona MacKenzie

Written by
  Tim Redman

Cast
  Dina Meyer
  Craig Sheffer
  Michele Hicks
  Dylan Walsh



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