Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Suspense > Fall Down Dead (2011/Image DVD) + In Her Skin (2008/IFC/MPI DVD) + The Roommate (2011/Sony DVD) + Student Services (2010/IFC/MPI DVD)

Fall Down Dead (2011/Image DVD) + In Her Skin (2008/IFC/MPI DVD) + The Roommate (2011/Sony DVD) + Student Services (2010/IFC/MPI DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+/B-/C+/C+     Extras: C-/C/C-/C-     Films: C-/C/C-/C



There is nothing sadder than thrillers or sexy drams that do not work and here are four that really missed the mark….


Fall Down Dead (2011) is a would-be serial killer thriller with Udo Kier as the Picasso Killer, on a murder spree in which he has decided to give himself a Christmas present by not killing, but tormenting a single mother (Dominique Swain) by showing off his handiwork to her by terrifying her with his skills.  Can she stop him before he kills again, or will he kill her too?  In all this, we get a blackout, twists that do not work and one of David Carradine’s last performances.  Writer Roy Sallows and Director Jon Keeyes just cannot take this anywhere new despite the talent on hand and the result is lame.


Simone North’s In Her Skin (2008) also sports a solid cast including Guy Pierce, Miranda Otto, Ruth Bradley, Kate Bell and Sam Neill as another bad guy as one sick young lady tries to live as another, but this tale of identity theft, psychosis and crazy behavior never really pans out into anything we have not seen before.  Neill is ever-effective and the underrated Pierce is solid as a father who does not know what to do.  Some nice performances, ideas and even locations ultimately do not add up, but with more ambition, this could have worked better.


We get a simpler version of the same thing in The Roommate (2011), a very watered down variant of another Sony film, the hit Single White Female.  However, this is more like one of the endless rip-offs from the time of the original, except that inept Director Christian E. Christiansen is clueless when it comes to the concept of suspense or anything else in the thriller genre.  Minka Kelly plays the new school gal who gets paired with the soon-to-be obsessed Leighton Meester and the “good girl” has a boyfriend in Cam Gigandet.  These are decent-looking actors shot to look good, but in addition to not working, Sonny Mallhi’s equally inept script has a few stereotypes (including those about mental health) to go with every cliché he could stuff into the screenplay.  This is as silly as it is bad and even offensive and ignorant.  Frances Fisher has a few scenes and Billy Zane is wasted as the “sexy older art teacher” showing Christiansen also knows nothing about handling talent.


That brings us to Emmanuelle Bercot’s Student Services (2010), a French film also about college students, but this one is based on an expose about one young lady (Deborah Francois) needing extra money for higher education so she decides to go on the Internet and become a hooker for higher education.  Besides being more realistic down to its nudity and situations than The Roommate, it has a non-American director who knows how to direct and this is the most ambitious of the four films which can also be considered a thriller of sorts.  The problem this one gets into is predictability and that we have also seen this kind of thing before.  It is the most mature of the four works, not stuck in a genre formula, but it just could not find anything new to say or show about what we see.



The anamorphically enhanced image on all four releases can be soft, detail challenged and even lacking in color throughout.  Dead and Student are 1.78 X 1, while the others are 2.35 X 1 and while they all have some good shots, none of them stand out.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on all four have limited soundfields except Skin, which is the sonic winner here and is the only one that might sound better with a lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray.  Extras on all four include a trailer, save Roommate which offers “Dangerous Sexy [or is that stupid] Special Features” including a weak Director’s Commentary track, Deleted & Alternate Scenes.  Skin also has Deleted Scenes, Interviews and a Behind The Scenes featurette.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com