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The Crush (1993)

Shout! Factory
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/21/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/17/2016

From what I can glean, there were two things which were constants for centuries -- due to shorter life spans, people got married at young ages, often in their teens; and it was not uncommon for older men to have relationships with much younger women. At some point, and rightly so, society decided to get away from those practices, and it became unacceptable for mature men to take advantage of teenaged girls. This truly came to light in Vladimir Nabokov's 1995 novel "Lolita", which portrayed an older man lusting for a 12-year old girl. The title has become synonymous with this sort of relationship, and this kind of thing was clearly the inspiration for the 1993 thriller The Crush.

Journalist Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) has just moved to the big city to pursue his dream of working for a magazine. After checking out some apartments, he settles on the guest house at the home of the Forrester family. He immediately meets 15-year old Darian Forrester (Alicia Silverstone), a poor-little-rich-girl who craves attention. Nick is friendly to her and allows her to hang out in his new home. As Nick gets settled in at work and begins a flirtation with co-worker Amy (Jennifer Rubin). This makes Darian very jealous, and soon, Nick begins to notice things missing from his room and his work tampered with. He attempts to reason with Darian, but it soon becomes apparent that her feelings have gone far beyond obsession.

Writer/Director Alan Shapiro doesn’t try to hide the visual references to Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film version of Lolita, even mimicking that film’s famous looking-over-sunglasses motif. But, with the script, he has turned the tables on the story. It’s not the older man who is obsessed with the teenaged girl, but the opposite. Nick makes the mistake of paying attention to Darian (more on that in a moment), and she then becomes determined to insert herself into his life. With that, he’s clearly drawing more from the 1987 hit Fatal Attraction. Instead of being a scandalous tale of forbidden love, The Crush skews more towards the thriller end of the spectrum, as Nick becomes more and more concerned with his personal life and then his safety, with the whole thing ending with a crazy violent finale.

So, The Crush lays out a serious plot which involves pedophilia, fixations, stalking, and journalistic integrity. The problem with the film is that it’s incredibly difficult to take seriously. As you’ll recall, in Fatal Attraction, Michael Douglas gave in to his baser impulses and had a tryst with Glenn Close, despite her awful hair. That was morally wrong, but it rang true with the audience due to the fact that they were both adults. When Nick agrees to a late-night drive with Darian up the coast to a lighthouse, we suddenly have the equivalent of a “Don’t go in there girl!” scene from a horror movie. Sure, people do stupid things all the time, but this lapse in judgment from a seemingly intelligent person really calls the film’s logic into question. And things only get wackier from there. Not that one should underestimate the intelligence or drive of a teenager, but Darian truly goes to great lengths to infiltrate Nick's life and alienate those close to him. Someone should have gotten her a hobby. Then we have the finale. I won't give too much away, but Nick apparently gains super-human strength at the end of the film.

All of that aside, The Crush is steamy and scandalous, right? No, not really. This is probably the most tame Fatal Attraction/Lolita rip-off that you'll ever see. I think that if it were released today, it would be PG-13. There's no sex, a few bare butts, and some highly questionable violence, and that's about it. What we do get is scene after scene of Alicia Silverstone making pouty faces, making one wonder if she was cast solely due to the skills to make her lips and eyes work so hard. The movie actually presents subject matter which could be profound, and as the today's headlines often feature stories of sexual abuse, it could be timely as well. And the notion of being accused to molest a minor is certainly a scary one. But, the movie goes over-the-top one times too many and credibility flies out the window early on. While it wants to be earnest, The Crush is actually the kind of movie which would be fun to watch with a crowd of like-minded people who enjoy goofy films. And you'll get to revel in the moment where Nick’s computer tells him in three different ways that all of his files have been deleted.

The Crush clearly doesn't know what a cool car is on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Shout! Factory. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear. However, there is some mild grain at times and I spotted a few white spots on the image. The colors look good, as the movie presents many bold tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good given the other issues and the movie does not suffer from the flat look which can stymie older movies. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects work well, as they show nice separation. The surround sound effects are OK, but they offer much presence, even in the party or horse-jumping scene. I did note that the track is somewhat loud, as it was audible at a volume level which was unusually low.

The Crush Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Alan Shapiro moderated by Nathaniel Thompson. "The Doting Father" (10 minutes) is an interview with Kurtwood Smith who shares how he got involved with the film and what his experiences were like. Jennifer Rubin talks about her career and shares her memories of The Crush in "Stung By Love" (13 minutes). The extras are rounded out by a THEATRICAL TRAILER and a TV SPOT.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long