Directed by Malik Bader
7 out of 10
“Crush” from director Malik Bader (Street Thief) and writer / producer Sonny Mallhi is an efficient and practical little thriller that is peppered throughout with a touch of Hitchcockian flair. It uses the daunting theme of the sexual stalker as it’s story and this time, much to my surprise and delight, Bader’s film is both involving and eloquent. Much of it is standard fare as with all movies about someone being stalked and followed. What Bader does here though is establish the characters and has us feel for each and everyone of them . He also consequentially delivers the creeps and displays that in this day and age some directors can still produce a twist and shock the viewers. When that happens and happens successfully, “Crush” becomes a film with some cred. It doesn’t happen until late in the film but what comes before it is interesting and smart. Bader manages to lift the movie beyond it’s “Teen Obsession” flick. It’s crafty and tricky and it is able to pull the wool over your eyes more than once. The movie opens with a disturbing sequence involving a boy and an innocent looking girl on top of a modest home’s rooftop and after shocking us in it’s brutality, Bader continues to build his story in a relevant and worthwhile way.
Bader cast Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf) as Bess. A teen loner who is quiet, meek and a bit lonesome. She works at a local music store and apparently has a secret crush on a local school athlete named Scott, played by Lucas Till (X Men First Class). Scott is recovering from a knee injury he suffered and is in the middle of his therapy and trying to get back into shape to continue playing sports in school. He lives with his Dad, Mike, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club). As he tries hard to get better he deals with a love affair with his on and off again girlfriend named Jules (Sarah Bolger). Meanwhile it seems that Bess herself may have a secret admirer as well in Jeffrey played by Reid Ewing (Fright Night). He dotes over her and continues to make excuses for spending more and more time with her. She takes no notice of him at first since she is obviously concerned with what seems like a torrid obsession with Scott. There are weird e-mails, pictures and occurrences surrounding Scott and his girlfriend Jules that gradually increases to the boiling point. Scott knows he is being followed and being watched that he eventually becomes very paranoid and even gets blamed for posting lewd pictures of Jess. It seems that Bess, while ignoring Jeffrey, has been up to no good and making her crush on Scott literally unbearable. His life begins to unravel and his Father ( being out of town ) is not around to help him with Bess. He confronts her several times and is even told by Bess’s co-worker, Andie (Caitriona Balfe) to back off and Scott’s teammates also picks up on Scott’s odd behavior. Bader weaves all of these characters and a few more into an intricate web of deceit, confrontations and frightening suspense. It’s all very old school and as we are kept guessing as to all of the motives and actions of all these characters, Bader continues to tighten his grip. He and his writers add some gravity and depth to the movie with a very capable cast and well placed suspense.
There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to “Crush” It has a suspenseful peculiarity to it and it relishes in keeping us guessing. It is hard to review the film without spoilers because there are some twists and turns that are not telegraphed way ahead of it’s resolution. The cast are all young and compelling even though the actors all seem like they really couldn’t be high school students but I digress. What’s important is that Malik Bader’s “Crush” is an intriguing slow burn ( I just keep using that damn phrase, don’t I?) that explores the themes of every angst ridden teen regarding jealousy, obsession, fringe behavior and the handsome and refreshing production values make “Crush” a magnetic stalker flick. It is no “Play Misty For Me” or “Fatal Attraction” only because those films came first and this entry can be very reminiscent of earlier movies of it’s ilk. It’s touching, exciting and riveting especially in it’s third act and the twist is completely well timed. My only gripe is it’s procedural and derivative flashback sequence. Why do we have to sit thru flashbacks of things we could pretty much have figured out without the visual flow chart. It does not spoil the film but I did roll my eyes a bit. I hope you guys get a chance to check out “Crush.” It is a mature effort that can appeal to teens and adults. It was a pretty pleasant surprise. Recommended!