Thursday, July 30, 2009

Naked Fear

Reading the description listed for the film Naked Fear reminded me of a book I read years ago called The Most Dangerous Game about a wealthy hunter that has taken to hunting humans on his island home. Having enjoyed that short story, I felt that this movie might be interesting enough to hold my attention for two hours. Although Naked Fear does not have big budget backing, I found the film to worthwhile.

Naked Fear introduces us to a cast of characters in the small town of Santa Paula , New Mexico . The disparity between the number of women in relationship to the number of men make women a commodity in New Mexico . Women are brought in to staff a local strip club with the assistance of a seedy character who basically forces them into the sex industry. The hunting culture in Santa Paula allows for some misdirection (and even the plausibility of a cover-up) regarding the disappearance of several young women from the community. The women are kidnapped and taken to a remote are of New Mexico where they are stripped naked and given a fifteen minute head start by their captor. If they can outsmart the hunter, they earn their freedom. They never seem to succeed.

Although the plot seemed to be lifted from The Most Dangerous Game, the use of strippers added a visually appealing twist to the concept. The characters were not very well developed, but the writer (Christine Vasquez) does a good job at creating a bit of mystery regarding the prime suspect in the disappearances. The dialogue was decent at times and downright stupid at others. The individual who brings new dancers to town would like to be a menacing character…but neither the acting nor the writing for this particular character sold me. He was flat and hard to believe. Another issue with the writing was that you have a resourceful and particularly tenacious girl who is duped into stripping rather than finding a legitimate way to repay the cost of relocating from Texas to New Mexico . It couldn’t have been more than a couple of hundred dollars that she owed the “head hunter.” That entire train of thought was lost on me. However, there were some exchanges that were interesting. The background of a young officer is brought up through conversations which, although far from intellectual, seemed like a natural way to convey some motivations, while contributing to the suspense. Although the writing had ample areas for improvement, it wasn’t completely bad.

The acting was mixed. I felt like the lead character, Diana, was expertly portrayed by Danielle De Luca. Although there were elements of the character that were a bit inconsistent, De Luca did an expert job of using her character to connect with the audience. Joe Montegna played an interesting character that keeps the audience guessing. Is he a straight as an arrow Sheriff or is hiding a dark secret? Maybe he is covering something up. Montegna creates a character in Naked Fear that has some complexity and engages the audience. I found that his character was relevant and an important aspect of the story. Much of it a tribute to Montegna's ability to deliver a multi-layered performance. Arron Shiver was a bit less convincing as the newly hired Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Terry. Shiver was okay, but not exceptional. Another interesting character was Colin Mandel (J.D. Garfield), a cafe owner and avid hunter. Garfield had a role with some challenging elements, which he overcomes smoothly. The performances of Garfield, De Luca and Montegna made Naked Fear worth watching. The rest of the cast were one-dimensional and forgettable.

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