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Like some people I know, some movies think they’re more interesting than they really are. This is the case with John Duigan’s Paranoid.
Paranoid stars Jessica Alba (TV’s “Dark Angel”) as Chloe, an up-and-coming fashion model who travels to the country home belonging to a friend of her current boyfriend. Their host is Stan (Iain Glen), a creepy fellow if there ever was one. Stan runs the house with his wife, Rachel (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and his brother, Gordon. Chloe and her boyfriend meet a group of other people there, including the boyfriend’s (gasp) wife.
Before the night is over, Chloe discovers that Stan has “sent everyone home” — that is, everyone except her. Without a ride back into the city and unable to get a cab out in the middle of nowhere, she’s trapped. Slowly but surely, it turns out Stan is a lot stranger than we first thought, and it isn’t long before Chloe finds herself the unwilling prisoner of Stan, his wife, and the camcorder-happy Gordon. Will she escape? What type of plans do they have for her? Will I wake up in time for the ending?
If you haven’t noticed by my summation of the movie, I did not find Paranoid to be as intellectual or as quirky or even as interesting as the actors and filmmakers seem to think it is. In fact, throughout most of the movie keeping my eyes open was a struggle. I have had this happen to me a couple of times while watching movies, but those other times were due to the fact that I hadn’t slept in a while.
To be honest, Paranoid just bored the hell out of me. It isn’t enough that it’s a “talky” film, but the abundant talk is just so boring. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad, but the characters, especially Glen as Stan, drones on and on and on and on. And what does the man talk about? I couldn’t tell you. I think he just likes to hear his own voice. Of course, that’s not easy, since Stan has a low, grumbling monotone that sounds like he’s reading off a cue card.
A movie like Paranoid has nothing going for it. It’s a terrible bore, and besides that, it’s one of those movies that make you scratch your head. Not because it’s hard to understand, but because it’s hard to understand why anyone would ever make it in the first place. If the Stan character wasn’t enough to convince you that writer/director John Duigan is intent on making a movie that tests the limits of audience patience, then the casting of Jessica Alba will make you ponder the man’s sanity.
Forget for one moment that Alba was only 19 years old at the time of shooting and had the acting chops of a brick wall, but the poor girl looked as if she was bored out of her mind from the opening shot onward. As a thespian, Alba shifts between two facial expressions: the bored, pouty look, and the smirking smile. (If you’ve seen any episode of her TV show “Dark Angel” then you will know what I’m talking about, since the young lady has yet to establish a third facial expression 2 years later.) Movies like Paranoid are doomed to failure, and even more so when your lead actress looks like she’d rather be at Chucky Cheese and your lead villain thinks talking endlessly and looking creepy is somehow interesting. It isn’t. And neither is the movie.
By movie’s end, one gets the feeling writer/director Duigan must have realized just how ridiculously dull his movie had been up to this point, which might explain why he threw in an ending that bordered on being comically ridiculous. I could say more about Paranoid, but just having to relive the movie for this review has made me…drowsy…
John Duigan (director) / John Duigan (screenplay)
CAST: Jessica Alba …. Chloe
Iain Glen …. Stan
Jeanne Tripplehorn …. Rachel
Ewen Bremner …. Gordon
Mischa Barton …. Theresa
Kevin Whately …. Clive