Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Naked Fear

A young woman moves to a seedy town in New Mexico for a dancing job, only to find out that "dancing" of course means "stripping." With no money to get home, she finds herself manipulated and taken advantage of by the various creeps she works for. And just when things seem like they couldn't get any worse, she's abducted by a serial killer who likes to drop his victims off naked in the middle of nowhere and hunt them for sport.

Apparently directed by the dude who did Night of the Comet, Naked Fear is a mostly effective thriller with some resonant themes about the treatment of women in our society. Lest my plot description made you worry this was some sort of misogynist piece of garbage, allow me to assure you that it is not. Although the lead actress does have to spend an uncomfortable amount of the film in the nude (not that she's hard on the eyes; far from it), it's definitely a pro-lady story of empowerment, as this oft-abused women has to use her wits to defeat a madman with literally no resources at her disposal.

The whole hunting segment, which takes up an enjoyably large chunk of the film, is reasonably well done and exciting. This is the real meat of the film, but unfortunately the filmmakers decide to burn off too much of its running time with an extraneous subplot about the police sorta kinda investigating the whole matter. The sole purpose of this seems to be to give Joe Mantegna (the only name actor in the cast) some screen time, but it doesn't add anything appreciable to the film. At an hour and forty five minutes, they could have easily excised all this material, and left the movie a more lean, mean thriller.

After a satisfying climax, the film goes on a few beats too long and settles on and ending that, while thematically appropriate, strikes the wrong note. I appreciate that the filmmakers probably wanted to underline the film's ultimately feminist-ish themes, but what they go for is oddly over-the-top and out of left field. A more subdued ending would have been a better fit.

Rating: B-

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