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Wild Things - Wild Things( Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]

Wild Things is a twist bound and steamily edged neo-noir from the late 1990s- it features a good/known cast taking in Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and Bill Murry. It’s a film that will certainly keep you on your toes with its often-surprising turns/ reveals, with a neat moody setting that brings together the charmed lives of the affluent beach community, neon edge bars and motels, and alligator slithering swamps. Here from the folks at Arrow Video- both in the UK and stateside- is a new Blu Ray release of the picture, featuring a 4k scan of the film, a new commentary track, new interviews, and some archive extras.

Wild Things (working title Sex Crimes) was released in the year 1998. It was the fourth feature-length film from John McNaughton- who will probably be most known to genre fans for his uber grim & troubling debut film Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, and it’s fair to say Wild Things is a very different kettle of fish. It’s a sleek, sexy thriller- that’s nicely edged with nods back to the noir past.
 
The film is set in and around an affluent Florida beach community, which has its more shady/ deadly undercurrents/ outskirts. It focuses on college counsellor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) who is both popular and supportive to his students. One boiling hot afternoon, brattish and flirty teen Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) comes around to Mr Lombardo’s house to wash his jeep- the next thing she’s run away panicked, and she accuses him of rape. In steps focused, always wearing a shirt and tie, and determined to break the case cop Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon)- who has his sights on making sure the counsellor gets put away. And when drug-using bad girl Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) also comes forward to say Mr Lombardo attacked her, and he has a reputation for sleeping around with the rich women of the town it seems a done and dusted case.
The counsellor reaches out to shady/ tricky out of town lawyer Ken Bowden (Bill Murry)- who is normally involved with dodgy accidents claims, to defend him in court. And that’s about all I can say/ tell you plot-wise…. without very much spoiling the sudden, entertaining, if at points rather stretching believable plot.
 
Cast wise the film is very well filled out- Dillon starts off charming and likeable, but as things unfold you start to doubt your initial impression. Bacon works well as the dogged and going to get his man no what the costs cop. Richards is the perfect fit as the entitled teen- who switches between being flirty and being a believable emotional victim. Campbell is surprisingly good and different from what she normally plays as the troubled and unbalanced Suzie. And Murry, offers up a good blend of light comedy touches and more serious acting tropes.
 
The film is very well-paced and tense throughout- with both versions featured here running near the two-hour mark- it never drags or lags. The film's locations/ settings are most effective & well captured- we go from the waterside and well-maintained grounds of the college, onto the gated and grand houses of the community. Through the shadier and neo lined bars & motels of out of town, to the wilder and run-down swamps/ abandoned lots where both animal and human killers stalk. The soundtrack is well placed/ realized too with a blend of haunting female vocalising,  instrumental blues, and moody to brooding swamp scoring. For some reason or another, I missed Wild Things when it came out-and this is my first-time watch, and I say it’s a great 90’s noir tipped thriller, which will keep you on edge/ surprised throughout.
 

Moving onto this new Blu Ray- and we get a 4k scan of both the original theatrical and uncut print of the film, this looks particularly good with great crystal-clear definition and punchy-to-moody colourings. Going onto the extras- and first up the new stuff- we have a commentary track from director John McNaughton and producer Steven A. Jones- this is ok, if a little typical of this type of track. They go from discussing the opening shots of the film, which go from the everglades to the affluent side of Miami- mentioning the helicopter pilot. They discuss at one point that the credits were going to flash-forwards, though they are glad they stayed with what they got. They talk about the school/ college location, which was Ransom Everglades school, how much they paid in the budget to use it, and shooting on the site. Moving on we get on-screen observations and mentions of the crew who worked on certain scenes- this is peppered with interesting titbits of info- like Matt Damon was taught to sail by someone who worked on Flipper, the way different interior/ exterior were used for shots, and point out things of note in the shot background. They talk about being thrilled to have Robert Wanger on the film, and that Mr Bacon was the first star cast in the film. Later on, they mention the great use of dramatic scoring in the scenes where we get twists, and the use of lighting in the steamier scenes. They discuss the films twist and turn plot, and it’s still difficult to fully recall all the surprises/releases. They comment on sly moments of humour in the film, and a few other things. As I say it’s ok and certainly worth a play- though on the downside it’s a little sporadic in places, and there are no great revelations here. Next, we have on-screen interviews with the director (26.20) and actress Denise Richards (14.04).
Moving onto the archive extras we get another commentary track with director John McNaughton, cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball, producers Steven A. Jones and Rodney Liber, editor Elena Maganini and score composer George S. Clinton. Making of doc/ on set interviews, outtakes, and trailer.
The finished release comes with Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson and Sean Hogan, a Double-sided fold-out poster, six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadle
 

Wild Things is certainly a devilish twisting ‘n’ turning example of the thriller from- with a good & well-placed cast. The new 4k scan on the release really does look good, and we get a good selection of extras- both new and old, all making for another great Arrow Video release- that’s most certainly those who enjoy unpredictable, yet steamy neo-noirs, it’s a must-have purchase.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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