Saturday, July 16, 2011

Playing House and Testing Your Claws: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: Maya Entertainment provided a DVD screener of this film for review.

**here be some spoilers.

Director: Tom Vaughan.

Writers: Tom Vaughan and Kristy Dobkin.

Playing House is a thriller that was released on DVD June 21st by Maya Entertainment and this title was developed for distribution by American World Pictures. This is UV Pictures first feature film, Tom Vaughan's first film and also writer Kristy Dobkins' first feature. So, viewers can understand that there will be some growing pains in this picture. However, there are lots of positives here, as a resident doctor invites one too many people to stay at his large house in the outskirts of Los Angeles. That extra person brings her sexuality to the party and some very sharp knives. The result is a pretty average, predictable erotic thriller that produces a combination of some highs and lows.

Blair (Mayra Leal) is a young seductress with a past. Possibly leaving a trail of bodies on her journey to LA, Blair quickly jumps into bed with Danny (Matt Lusk) after meeting him on an online dating service. As an aside, one of the marketing strategies utilized for this film was offering a date with actress Mayra Leal to contestants. If Mayra is anything like her character Blair (surely she is not), then this is a contest that you would have wanted to avoid. Soon, characters are finding Blair's dark side a little fatalistic.

Husband Eric (Alex Dorman) does not see this seedier side of Blair. Because of his ignorance and because of Blair's murderous streak, Eric loses his wife, best friend and possibly even his job. If he did see the train wreck in front of him, then there would have been a lot less bloodshed. At the midpoint, Mayra's inexperience as an actress begins to come through, as her menace is more stone faced than necessary. If you are a killer, how about showing some passion for what you do. As well, Eric' inability to see Blair's true intentions seems too far fetched and Blair's killing spree during the climax surely would have experienced a mistake or two. Has anyone heard of nosy neighbours anyone?

By the second act, most film fans will have guessed how Playing House will play out. The plotline here is reminiscent of Fatal Attraction, except Eric is not tempted in to sexual misdeeds. Also, the bunny from the 1987 film is replaced by a cat; that poor kitty. Yet the comparison can still be made, as the family overcomes psychopathic, but interesting, behaviour in both films. Jealousy is a factor, with Playing House, choosing to leave some questions unanswered. In the end, this reviewer was still on the fence with this film, while a companion enjoyed the tense interplay between characters and the initial suspense.

Playing House is a slow starting erotic thriller with plenty of nudity and dramatic situations. Some of the execution in the film is a little uninspiring. The film looks good visually, minus a dark scene or two from the ending. As well, this is a first film for many of the primary crew members, so the picture is not always fluid from one scene to the next. Overall, this film is a slightly above average thriller with a close look at trust within and outside of relationships. Choose who you trust wisely in film, or you could end up with a knife in your back!

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 (recommended for fans of slow burning thrillers).

A second review of Playing House at DVD Sleuth (Mike Long):

Playing House Reviewed at DVD Sleuth

Playing House at Maya Entertainment:

Playing House at Maya Entertainment

And Playing House at American World Pictures:

Playing House at American World Pictures as Homewrecker

Marginally recommended:

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