- Matt Dillon as Sam Lombardo
- Kevin Bacon as Detective Ray Duquette
- Neve Campbell as Suzie Toller
- Denise Richards as Kelly Van Ryan
- Theresa Russell as Sandra Van Ryan
- Bill Murray as Ken Bowden
Trashy, flashy, yet deliciously twisted and entertaining, Wild Things is not exactly going to go down as one of the best thrillers in the genre. But with twists a plenty and curve balls throwing you at every turn, it’s impossible not to be caught up in this sordid and deceptive film even if it is a hell of a guilty pleasure.
Sam Lombardo is a handsome and popular high school counselor trying to climb to the social elite of the paradise that is Blue Bay, Florida. He is lusted after by most women in town who wouldn’t mind a piece of him. One such girl is the bitchy but buxom Kelly Van Ryan, who has her advances rebuffed when she attempts to seduce him after washing his car for a fundraiser. Events take an unexpected turn when Kelly accuses Sam of rape. The once respected counselor’s life is torn to shreds by the accusations as they head to court. And to make matters worse, another student in the form of trailer trash punk Suzie Toller also accuses him of rape. Yet when the case arrives in courts, the real fireworks go off. What initially appears to be an open shut case becomes ever more complicated as Suzie reveals that the girls were lying to get back at Lombardo for dating Kelly’s harridan of a mother Sandra. With the case then apparently settled, everyone tries to go about their lives again. But Inspector Ray Duquette who was assigned to the case when the accusations were made is not so convinced that the case is over and smelling a rat, digs deeper into the sordid case. What he discovers is that no one is what they seem as beautiful but fatal women, multiple motives and double crosses collide in a steamy and seriously twisted game.
Straight off the bat, director John McNaughton gives us simultaneous shots of the murky Everglades and bikini-clad lovelies, to ensnare us into this world of money, lust and suspicion. And McNaughton is not above exploiting the body and pleasures of the flesh for the audience’s desire. I mean some of these scenes play out like something from an adult movie, tinged with a twisty plot thrown in. We have Kelly slinking out of a pool in a tight blue swimsuit, slowly combing her hair and patting herself down in slow motion. A vicious catfight between Suzie and Kelly that leads to a passionate kiss. And not forgetting the infamous menage a trois between Sam, Kelly and Suzie. For all its sleaziness and sometimes ridiculousness, Wild Things is actually quite a deceptive film that does leave you guessing who is telling the truth in a web of lies and lust, that is strangely reminiscent of Noir. It appears that from Wild Things that for all the alligators and snakes that populate the swamps, no creatures are as slimy as those in this movie. The horn and percussive drenched score further brings an erotic and dangerous pulse to the movie.
Considering the sometimes laughable B-movie dialogue on show, the actors at least look like they’re having a blast playing such dangerous and unpredictable characters. Matt Dillon has that smug grin that is called into question by accusations. Yet for all the seemingly pleas, Dillon makes Sam a character who you really aren’t sure whether to root for or hate. Kevin Bacon, who in my opinion can always be relied up to deliver, is great here as the inspector obsessed with busting open the unusual case and getting more than he bargained for. Neve Campbell plays it deceptively cool as the morally complex Suzie, who by turns vulnerable, lonely, strange and very elusive. Denise Richards is never going to go down as a great actress but she is suitably sexy and catty as the blue-blooded sexpot whose accusations set in motion the strange and unpredictable case. Theresa Russell is loose and unrestrained as Kelly’s mother who is prone to fits of rage and diva like antics. But it’s Bill Murray in a small role who has the most fun. As the ambulance-chasing, low-rent lawyer of Sam, Murray has a blast playing this quick-witted and slightly scheming guy.
Sleazy, erotic and dark-hearted, Wild Things is pure guilty pleasure, with a few neat twists thrown in for good measure.