Suspicious River (2000)

Review

You’ll have trouble tracking down a more unwatchable movie this year than Suspicious River, which both firmly installs Molly Parker as the unequivocal goddess of freak-out not-quite-porn movies and will have you wondering just how bad a script has to be in order to get a movie made.

Director Lynne Stopkewich last worked with Parker on the film Kissed, which offered Parker as a mortuary embalmer who had sex with her dead clients. Here she’s strictly having sex with the living. She’s a receptionist at a seedy motel — and she’s the reason it’s seedy. You pay $60 for the room. Then you pay $60 for her to come round and give you oral sex.

Before long, she gets a client (Callum Keith Rennie) that realizes this behavior is a bit, er, irregular, and figures he can take advantage of her. Soon enough, he’s visiting her regularly, alternately forcing sex upon her and beating her up. She keeps coming back for more, culminating in kidnapping, a gang rape, and a plan to set her on fire. Will she accept her fate or actually make an effort to escape?

Meanwhile, she’s visited by a little girl with a secret you’ll figure out before the end… something that might have to do with the reason why Parker’s character is a super-freak.

Whatever you might have thought about Kissed, Suspicious River is far worse. The underlying reason for Parker’s character’s freakiness is ultimately unsatisfying and, more to the point, insulting. Rennie, who has built a mini-career on playing brooding and disturbed semi-hicks like this, is unwatchable as he mutters his awful lines. Both of them come across as losers (just of a different ilk), so in a sense we feel they deserve each other. But watching this descent into resignation and hopelessness is a bit like spending 100 minutes watching a terminally ill person slip away. Sure, Stopkewich’s film, like the worth of Catherine Breillat, isn’t meant to feel good — in any way — but its utter lack of any redeeming qualities in storytelling, acting, or theme means you’ll want to think twice before checking out this title.