Robert M. Young
- Farrah Fawcett as Marjorie
- James Russo as Joe
- Alfre Woodard as Pat
- Diana Scarwid as Terry
An unflinching dramatic thriller that tackles the subjects of rape, sexual assault and taking justice into ones own hands, Extremities is uncomfortable but intense, gritty viewing, bolstered by a harrowing turn from Farrah Fawcett and tense direction that refuses to make the sensitive subject matter exploitative.
Marjorie is a beautiful young woman living in Los Angeles with her two roommates Pat and Terry. One night when on her way home from work, she is attacked by a masked sadist, who firstly assaults her and then attempts to rape her. Marjorie manages to escape, but the psychopath manages to take her wallet, which contains her personal details. A traumatised Marjorie goes to the police to report the assault on her, but finds that with no witnesses and no proof, there is little anyone can do. A week passes and Marjorie is still shaken by the incident. Things get a whole lot more disturbing when the masked assailant, known as Joe and aware of her whereabouts due to her wallet being in his possession, enters her home and proceeds to torment the terrified Marjorie. He subjects Marjorie to abuse, both physical and emotional. Yet just as he is about to rape her, Marjorie manages to turn the tables on her attacker. Blinding him with insect repellent and caging him in the fireplace, Marjorie inflicts the same amount of abuse that Joe reaped upon her as her own form of justice and revenge for what he has put her through. She is then left with a difficult decision; should she turn him into the police? Or should she continue to torture him to show him how deeply traumatised his attack made her? And when her roommates return and find the horrors of what has happened, it leaves everyone in an uneasy position of what is the right course of action, considering justice in Marjorie’s eyes has failed.
A movie like Extremities could have easily been sleazily done and filled with exploitation, but thanks to the direction it never stoops to such levels. Robert M. Young makes sure that the themes of abuse and rape are presented with believability and are not just papered over. Extremities is an uncomfortable movie to sit through because of the content, but it shouldn’t be a comfortable movie. Tension is built from the very start as Marjorie is left in fear over the attacker returning and is eventually proved right when he comes back. What Extremities successfully manages to do is show us what can happen when justice isn’t served. Not that the film condones any of Marjorie’s actions in imprisoning Joe for what he has done to her, it just sheds light on the dehumanizing effects of assault and what it can ultimately drive someone to do. A suspenseful music score builds claustrophobic impact as Marjorie flips the tables and takes matters into her own hands. Now Extremities isn’t a flawless movie; at times the plotting is a bit scatter shot and some scenes go on longer than necessary. But saying that, those are the only real flaws in a grimly powerful movie.
Heading the relatively small cast is Farrah Fawcett in a shattering role as a woman fighting back after being a victim. Fawcett really commits to the role, making us feel the anger, pain and terror of Marjorie as she attempts to survive and then dish out her own version of justice on the sadistic Joe. It truly is a remarkable performance from Farrah Fawcett, that elicits sympathy because of what her character is put through. Also very effective is James Russo as the stalker/ rapist who enjoys playing psychological games with Marjorie, but doesn’t see what she is capable of and gets a brutal taste of his own medicine. Russo plays the character so well that you feel a genuine sense of hatred towards this brutal monster. In the roles of the roommates who try to reason with Marjorie, Alfre Woodard and Diana Scarwid do their best. Alfre Woodard is the best out of the two, as she is the most level-headed and reasonable. On the other hand, Diana Scarwid is just too over the top to be taken seriously in her role, which is a bit of a shame considering she can be a very good actress given the right role.
Brutal but believable and thankfully not sugar-coating any of the issues it addresses, Extremities is a very effective drama/thriller that examines the terror of assault and how the victimization of someone can make them go far beyond what they though they were ever capable of.