MRR Review: "Crave"

Photo Credit: Phase 4 Films

MRR Review: "Crave"

Rating: NR
Length: 113 minutes
Release Date: December 10, 1913
Directed by: Charles de Lauzirica
Genre: Thriller/Horror

There must have been a point during the making of the recently released horror thriller "Crave" in which director Charles de Lauzirica and his co-screenwriter Robert Lauton admitted to themselves that their main character would not be able to hold audiences' sympathies much beyond the middle of the film. It's also possible that they knew this all along, because while audiences might feel compelled to cultivate sympathy for a disturbed young man whose volcanic nature can still be tamed, there is certainly no duty to feel sympathy for a sadistic crazed killer who has given free reins to those disturbances. What is undoubtedly certain is that about halfway through the film, any dramatic choreography that may have suggested the possibility of redemption or healing concerning the main character, Aiden (dutifully played by Josh Lawson), suddenly and permanently vanishes. After this, all that remains are the bloody actions of a crazed and arbitrary killer who seems to act from a pure sense of violence and degradation.

This move into a violence that goes beyond potential and into thoughtless action might be more banal than the operatic violence at work in Aiden's fantasies; however, it is just as dangerous and destructive. Early in the film, scenes are almost structured around some offer of redemption in the guise of various characters and situations. Aiden, for one, attends Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization that perhaps more than any other is intricately involved in the business of redemption. Aiden is a freelance crime photographer and through AA has befriended a cynical veteran police detective. His new acquaintance not only provides him access to photograph scenes no other photographer can get; he also becomes Aiden's de facto therapist with a wisecrack or a maxim for every situation.

The most frightening parts of this film aren't actually those in which Aiden is cut loose and becomes an almost supernatural sadistic force. What's really terrifying is the quiet conversations during which Aiden opens up to Pete and the destructive tempest that has shipwrecked Aiden's mind is revealed. Lauzirica and Lauton give Aiden's character the power of the voice-over, ostensibly to give the audience access to the internal disturbance in the character. However, the voice-over is so controlled and formal that it has a contrary effect. Rather than creating the impression of more access to John's internal world, the voice-over serves as a veneer that seals up any areas of weakness or perceived vulnerabilities. Aiden's mind is trapped in a vault of his own making, building up the psychological pressure that will soon explode inside his head with disastrous consequences.

Lauzirica and Burton are versed enough in the conventions of modern film drama that they must offer Aiden one last opportunity at redemption in the form of a love interest. Aiden is clearly interested in a young woman, Virginia, who lives down the hall in his building. After an afternoon tryst and a few get-togethers in which Aiden becomes more emboldened about revealing his dark fantasies, Virginia figures out what the veteran detective has not been able to from dozens of conversations with him. She realizes that his disturbances have already gone way beyond the boundaries of his own mind. As soon as Virginia decides to dump him, the countdown is established for the explosion.

Some critics have pointed out the influence of Martin Scorcerse's "Taxi Driver" on this film and the similarities between Travis Bickle and the character of Aiden. Much of the success of the portrayal of Bickle is due to his violence remaining contained throughout most of the film, brimming but never exploding until almost the end. The buildup of such tension is much more dramatically engaging than a hundred explosions.

Maniacal killers often perceive themselves as scourges who exact vengeance on a corrupt society. Aiden's moralizing takes on the violence he wants to exact may bring to mind the popular Showtime drama "Dexter." However, the screenplay strips Aiden of all moral ballast about halfway through the film. From there on, Lawson is left with nothing to portray but the robotic actions of a killing machine.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tags: Crave