THE IN CROWD Add To My Top 10
Kitschy, Kitschy Uncool
Release Date: July 21, 2000
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Mary Lambert
Executive Producer: Jonathan A. Zimbert & Michael Rachmil
Producer: James G. Robinson
Writer: Mark Gibson & Philip Halprin
Address Comments To:Barry A. Meyer, CEO
Warner Bros., Inc.
Warner Bros. Film Distribution Corp.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Lori Heuring stars as Adrien, a young woman who’s spent time in a psychiatric hospital for sexual obsession. The movie later reveals that she suffered from alleged sexual fantasies concerning her male psychological counselor in high school. In the opening scene, Adrien’s doctor gets her a job at a posh seaside club. At the club during the summer, adult children of the upper class gather to frolic, drink and party.
The dark queen of this “in crowd” is Brittany Foster, played by Susan Ward. Although Adrien comes from the lower classes, Brittany befriends her, much to the chagrin of Kelly, a girl who obviously has homosexual lesbian feelings for Brittany. Kelly seems to be afraid that Brittany is now turning her bisexual desires toward Adrien instead of her. Meanwhile, someone mentions that Adrien looks an awful lot like Brittany’s sister, Sandra. Two years ago, Sandra abruptly left town and now only sends postcards to Brittany and her father. Her disappearance adds a touch of mystery to the story.
As the movie unfolds, it becomes clear that Brittany has ulterior motives other than sexual attraction for being so chummy with Adrien. In fact, her motives turn out to be quite deadly ones. A battle of psychological wills ensues, violent twists occur, and Adrien finds the only person she can rely on to help her is Bobby (Nathan Bexton), an often besotted member of Brittany’s elite clique of rich acquaintances and friends.
Filled with attractive, potential young stars lacking polish, THE IN CROWD misses golden opportunities for applying some wit and style to its story. For instance, a stained blue dress plays an important role in the final stages of the plot, but the obvious connections to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky are not mentioned, much less utilized. Also, the movie portrays Kelly the serious lesbian as a poor, unfortunate victim of a heterosexual vamp who likes to play homosexual power games to tease other people. This sleazy, pro-homosexual message turns THE IN CROWD into vulgar kitsch, something that may appeal to popular or “lowbrow” vulgar tastes but which is often of poor quality.
Accompanying this sleazy message is what may be called the movie’s “teasability quotient.” THE IN CROWD flirts with portraying youthful sexuality and featuring young nude bodies, but it never delivers on its promises. Moral viewers may be thankful for this faux “restraint,” but it shows that the filmmakers lack the courage of their pagan, anti-Christian convictions. Interestingly, this quality reminds one of this year’s highly undeserved Oscar® winner, AMERICAN BEAUTY. In that movie, the perverted, pedophilic protagonist, played by Kevin Spacey, suddenly gets a moral conscience when he has the female object of his desire, a voluptuous high school student who brags about her virtually non-existent sexual experience, in his evil clutches. Actually, very little separates these two movies, other than AMERICAN BEAUTY’s phony aesthetic pretensions and its stronger efforts to appeal to the politically correct, crypto-fascist, pseudo-Marxist notions of America’s radical religious left elite extremists.
Compared to AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE IN CROWD remains a sleazy B movie that tries to be an erotic, PG-13 rated thriller designed to attract the box office bonanza of today’s teenage audience. The R-rated, low-budget subtext, however, shines through this movie’s own limited pretensions.
Furthermore, although the villain is portrayed as evil, the movie also suggests that the villain’s evil qualities are the result of other people, including a close family member, mistreating them. This explanation partly absolves the villain of guilt, but the actor playing the villain overplays the part by seeming to play the evil seductive qualities almost too strongly and too well. Thus, the explanation also does not fully make sense because the villain truly seems evil of their own accord. This, however, may be just an inconsequential quibble. After all, we’re dealing here with a B thriller that contains possibilities of high camp. To expect such a work to do the same things as, say, Alfred Hitchcock’s best efforts, may be silly, if not unfair.
Filled with attractive young stars lacking polish, THE IN CROWD misses opportunities for applying some wit and style to its story. The movie also includes a sleazy, pro-homosexual message where a young woman with true homosexual feelings becomes a poor victim of the killer. This message helps turn THE IN CROWD into vulgar kitsch. Accompanying this sleazy message is a flirtation with youthful sexuality and young bodies, but there is no nudity. Moral viewers may be thankful for this faux “restraint,” but it shows that the filmmakers lack the courage of their pagan convictions