ZERO STARS/**** Image A Sound A Extras D
starring Susan Ward, Leila Arcieri, Isaiah Washington, Tony Denison
screenplay by Ross Helford & Andy Hurst
directed by Jack Perez
by Walter Chaw Alligator swamps and high school, I get the comparison, but like the first film, Wild Things 2 is coy, smug, and not so much meta as a self-satisfied, misogynistic tease. Those looking for titillation will have to settle for a lot of slo-mo beach volleyball, multiple views of Susan Ward walking around slowly in such a way as to hide her alarming thighs, and a brief three-way featuring a body double for repulsive/hot (see also: Brittany Murphy) Leila Arcieri, who drops Arcieri down about two cup sizes while upping her pastiness by at least three Danes. Seriously here, how hard would it have been to find a couple of exhibitionistic starlets for a direct-to-video smut pic like Wild Things 2? The really disturbing thing about that is that Arcieri and Ward were apparently hired for their acting ability.
Brittney (Ward) is the stepdaughter of a rich cad (Tony Denison) who dies (or does he?) in a rat-caused plane crash. Maya (Arcieri) is Brittney's high school rival (or is she?) who makes a claim for Brittney's inheritance (or does she?) with the help (or without it?) of pathologist Julian ("General Hospital" sawbones Joe Michael Burke). On their trail (or is he?) is insurance investigator Bridge (Isaiah Washington), trying to unravel the google-crosses screenwriters Ross Helford and Andy Hurst have an aneurysm trying to squeeze into the twisty palm-noir premise.
With the whole shooting match hinging on the appetite of a few rats for fuselage wiring, Wild Things 2 is the bottom of the barrel in terms of not only plotting, but pretty much measurable category. Arcieri and Ward are awful; Burke, allegedly a Harvard-educated doctor, has trouble pronouncing "badly decomposed" (though I guess George W. went to Yale, so who knows what they're teaching in the Ivy Leagues these days); and Washington is probably only better than anyone else in the film because of his career-cooling habit of rewriting his own parts. 'Tis a pity, then, that a rubber alligator floating placidly nearby upstages a semi-reasonable soliloquy he delivers towards the end of the film.
The strangest thing about Wild Things 2 is that I get the distinct feeling roiling off of it that it believes itself to be a Scream kind of hybrid picture that has its satirical cake and eats it, too, when in fact it's the victim of the greater irony of being exactly the kind of knock-off crap that armies of horny pre-adolescents armed with their parents' Blockbuster cards believe it to be and have an unslakable thirst for. Calling women "wild things" is the last provenance of the terminally juvenile, after all--its title all the warning any kind of reasonably actualized human being would need to avoid it.
Columbia TriStar releases Wild Things 2 in a vibrant 1.81:1 anamorphic video transfer matched by a decent DD 5.1 mix--the quality of both indicative of technology rather than merit. I feel compelled to mention that the flesh tones in the picture are particularly warm, owing partly, no doubt, to the acres of tanned skin on display. A 2.0 French dub is simply fantastic--something I discovered while re-testing my theory that really bad English-language films are suddenly sort of decent when watched en français. Sure enough. "Making the Glades" (21 mins.) is an unintentionally humorous compilation of behind-the-scenes interviews, B-reel, and film clips. I particularly liked Ward's propensity for malapropisms--it's cruel laughter, sure, but it's laughter. Along with trailers for this film, Cruel Intentions, In the Cut, Sin, and the original Wild Things, the featurette rounds out the disc. Originally published: April 2, 2004.