Audiences are the ones who should feel scorned.
Here’s an exercise in pointlessness the likes of which I thought I’d never see.
Kevin (Billy Zane, The Phantom) is in trouble. His bride-to-be Sadie (AnnaLynne McCord, 90210) just discovered that he’s cheating on her with her best friend Jennifer (Viva Bianca, Spartacus: Blood and Sand). Turns out Sadie is a murderous psycho. She abducts Kevin and Jennifer and tortures them. The end.
Marketed as a psycho-sexual thriller (Did we ever get a proper definition of “psycho-sexual?”), Scorned is light on thrills and even lighter on sex. The first scene is a flash-forward of Sadie abducting Kevin, spelling out she knows about the affair, so there’s no suspense or surprise as to where the story’s going. Once Kevin and Jennifer are properly knocked out and duct-taped to chairs, there’s no buildup of suspense, there’s no tension of whether they will escape. It’s just Sadie acting off-the-charts wacky and the filmmakers trying to one-up each other to see who can think up the most messed-up torture.
The biggest problem is Sadie, the insane girlfriend. There’s just no method to her madness. The best movie psychos always had a certain method to their madness. Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter, Annie Wilkes, the Joker—they were total scary nutcases, but they still had a consistency to them that made them memorable characters. Sadie, on the other hand, has no consistency. Her entire character can be summed up as, “Hee, what wacky thing will she say or do next?” She acts all flirty and playful while torturing, but then gets all dramatic when spilling the beans about her oh-so-tragic backstory. (Said backstory, by the way, is just as ridiculous as she is.) Also, Sadie acts so ditzy and goofy that there’s no way I buy her as some sort of insane mastermind. With a little clever thinking, these two could’ve/should’ve escaped or overpowered her easily.
But, hey, you’re not in this for rich characterization, are you? It’s all about sex and torture! Don’t get excited. Instead of trashy B-movie goodness, everything reminds me of watered-down made-for-TV movie thrills. The sex scenes are all, “Just leave your underwear on and we’ll call that ‘naked.'” The torture scenes don’t make any kind of sense. Sadie electrocutes her victims because she was once electro-shocked by doctors. OK, fine, but then she does the “evil dentist” thing by mangling her victims’ teeth, just because that’s always a good bet to make audiences squirm. Most egregious of all is a scene in which Sadie threatens to kill a cute dog unless Kevin and Jennifer perform a sex act in front of her. What better why do whip viewers into a frenzy than by endangering the dog? This whole thing is just a tepid attempt at sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism.
There’s so much wrong with Scorned, I might as well make a list:
• Late in the game, the movie introduces a second psycho killer, whose eventual participation in the plot occurs purely by random coincidence.
• I have no clue what Billy Zane is doing in this movie. He plays some scenes with a Bruce Willis-style smirk, but other scenes with this crazy rage. I’m left with no idea who this character is.
• Hit someone on the head, and you just assume they’re unconscious. Don’t check, or finish the job, or anything.
• This movie has the nerve—the nerve!—not only to recreate the most famous scene from Misery, but the characters actually stop and tell us they’re recreating the most famous scene from Misery.
• And so on.
What’s really sad is that AnnaLynne McCord was amazing as a psycho in 2012’s Excision. Now that movie had some sick ‘n’ twisted thrills. It just goes to show how important it is for actors to be paired with the right material.
The 1.78:1/1080p HD visuals on Scorned (Blu-ray) are clean, but not as detail-rich as some of the more top-of-the-line Blu-ray discs we’ve seen. The TrueHD 5.1 Surround track is strangely subdued, so I had to crack the volume way up just to make out what the actors were saying. There are no extras.