There’s something oddly entertaining about watching serial killer Mila Kunis stalking a college campus and leaving bodies lying nonchalantly everywhere, not unlike a rabid dog marking her passing. Maybe it’s because Kunis (“That 70’s Show”) has one of those squeaky voice that, in large doses, could become grating; or maybe it’s because she’s a tiny firecracker, barely 5’3″ according to her bio, that’s pulling off these audacious and wholly indiscreet murders. Whatever the case, Morgan J. Freeman’s “American Psycho 2” is more entertaining and definitely more effective than it has any right to be.
Promoted as the sequel to the Christian Bale movie “American Psycho”, Freeman’s movie seems to have little in common with that original. Although there is a connection: the sequel opens with young Rachael Newman (Kunis) not only witnessing yuppie mass murderer Bateman (the serial killer played by Bale in the original) ply his trade, but we’re also told that she was, in fact, the one who ended his crime spree. Killing Bateman also triggers something in the young Rachael — she is now determined to become an FBI agent and hunt down serial killers. But first she has to become the teaching assistant of former FBI profiler Robert Starkman (William Shatner), the surefire stepping stone to getting into the FBI academy.
Not having seen the original with Bale, I really can’t say how faithful this sequel is to the other movie. Although that shouldn’t really matter, because rumor has it that “AP2” was crafted out of an original script called “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die” into what it is now. That is, this film was never meant to be a sequel to the Christian Bale movie, and director Morgan J. Freeman (not to be mistaken with actor Morgan Freeman) has said as much. What we have here, then, is a Black Comedy more than your average Teen Slasher, even though the movie takes its points from every Teen Slasher that’s come before it.
The one thing that sets “AP2” apart from other Teen Slashers is that it is funny. Very, very funny, in fact. As a Black Comedy, the film is quite clever in many respects. Kunis plays her part with great timing, and this includes her self-irreverent deadpan voiceover narration. At one point, after having killed a fellow classmate in order to get the TA job so she can go to the FBI in order to catch people like her, she realizes the conundrum herself and confesses flippantly that she needs mental help. The next scene is Kunis in the office of psychiatrist Eric (Geraint Wyn Davies). Funny stuff.
To be honest I’m not sure if Freeman (“Hurricane Streets”) intended his movie to be more Black Comedy than Teen Slasher. Surely he must have known that denying the Teen Slasher audience gratuitous violence and T&A is a major sin. “AP2” has no nudity to speak off, and it doesn’t seem particularly interested in offering any. You would think having a slutty character that is sleeping with the teacher is prime fodder for cheap sex, but alas, no. In lieu of T&A and blood and guts, Freeman offers a staggering bodycount that is, amazingly, devoid of blood for the most part. Most of the kills take place offscreen, with only an early death-by-condom occurring before the camera.
The Teen Slasher aficionado in me is a bit peeved at Freeman’s insistence on hiding the goodies. (I am referring to both the blood and guts and the T&A, if you were wondering.) Fans of the genre already expect so little to begin with that it’s a major letdown for a film to deny us even these minor pleasures. Although surprisingly I didn’t really mind the missing elements here, mostly because the movie is so funny and entertaining. Everything from Rachael’s screwed up plans and sense of righteousness to Geraint Wyn Davies (“Cube 2”), playing the loser psychiatrist who has such a crappy life that he has to go to dinner with his elderly mother.
In many ways one can measure his or her potential enjoyment of “American Psycho 2” by this question: “Have you seen the original?” As I hear it, the two films have nothing in common except perhaps for the staggering bodycount. Not having seen the original, I can say that I did enjoy “AP2”, much more than I had expected to. Kunis is terrific in the role, and even Captain Kirk manages to convince as the campus lothario. There are, to be sure, massive plot holes in the film — such as how Kunis can keep dropping bodies pretty much everywhere and yet no one ever takes notice — but they can be forgiven if one looks at the film as a Black Comedy, which doesn’t need to make logical sense.
“American Psycho 2” is buoyed by a winning lead and a flippant script. Even so, there will not be enough here for those expecting more. The film is certainly better than most Teen Slashers out there, but as fans of the genre can tell you, that’s not really all that big of a compliment.
And if you were wondering — yes, they do leave room for a sequel. And yes, I will watch this possible sequel, but only if Kunis returns in the lead.
Morgan J. Freeman (director) / Alex Sanger, Karen Craig (screenplay)
CAST: Mila Kunis …. Rachael Newman
William Shatner …. Professor Robert Starkman
Geraint Wyn Davies …. Eric Daniels
Robin Dunne …. Brian Leads