Friday, November 9, 2012

Listen (1996)

There were a lot of trends from the 90's that feel ancient nowadays. Virtual Reality. Industrial Rock. Pogs (not a diss on that though.) Another one of these trends was the "Erotic Thriller", which was made popular thanks to the likes of "Basic Instinct" and "Sliver" (you know, that movie with one of the Baldwin Brothers and Sharon Stone? You know, the one with Enigma aka "One of the whitest things in music history" aka "Hey, let's mix generic dance beats with half assed samples of chanting and world music!" on the soundtrack?) In the process, there were a lot of straight to video variations on this genre, such as the 1996 film "Listen" by Gavin Wilding.*

Sarah (Brooke Langton) is a former lesbian who has moved into an apartment, where her boyfriend Jake (Gordon Currie) and ex-girlfriend Krista (Sarah Buxton) live. In her apartment is a defective cordless phone that lets her eavesdrop and leads her to having phone sex. Unfortunately for her, a killer is targeting the people she's been talking to. The police say it's the same killer who just happened to vanish last year, but it could be anyone...

There's little in "Listen" that's terrible per say, but there's little that's good either. Like many straight-to-video films from the period, it's largely forgettable and isn't particularly well acted or directed. Hell, the sole reason most audience members will want to see this is the eroticism angle, which plays out like an extended, suspense themed episode of one of those old "erotic anthology" shows from the period like "Erotic Confessions" (How do I know about this? Simple, scramble vision from the 90's my dear reader!) or something.

If your a fan of that kind of thing, then will probably be of interest, and the killer aspect of the film does kind of bring to mind something that wouldn't be too out of place in a giallo film (Just don't expect anything too violent.) However, the conclusion is something of a confusing twist ending that goes "No, this is the killer! No, this is the killer!" too often, leaving anything revolving around believability out the window. Also worthy of mention is how it kinda bungles the whole lesbian aspect. There's tons of potential here for commenting on society's attempts to repress homosexuality, but it doesn't seem interested in that at all.

As a whole, I've seen much worse than "Listen", but there's little of it worth mentioning other than the fact that I remember seeing a copy of it in one of those VHS rentals in the 90's (Haven't bothered to watch it until now. I'm sure 15 year old me would be all like "Whoa, she's masturbating!") and that it was talked about in "VideoHound's Horror Show", which was a book I had. Unless you have fond memories of straight-to-video erotic thrillers from the 90's, skip it. Actually, I don't think it's available on DVD anywhere (not even in some sort of Echo Bridge or Mill Creek box set), so I doubt you'll ever see it anyway.

Rating: 4.5/10

*Wilding is a veteran of the direct to video world, whose genre credits include the Christopher Lloyd vehicle "Convergence", "Spliced" with Ron Silver, "Stag" with Mario Van Peebles and Kevin Dillon and "Caught in the Headlights" with Erika Eleniak. Never heard of them? That's fine, I doubt few else have, or at least remember them.

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