Scott (Lucas Till of X-Men: First Class) has it all. He’s a star soccer player at his high school, he’s dating the cutest girl in school, Jules (Sarah Bolger of The Moth Diaries), and he’s a talented artist. Everything seems to be going perfectly for Scott until one evening he discovers that a quiet girl, Bess (Crystal Reed of MTV’s Teen Wolf), wants to be more than friends. As everything in his life begins to fall apart, Scott believes that someone is trying to ruin him, and that Bess is the one to blame. As more suspects arise, Scott soon learns that as with everything in high school… things aren’t as they appear.
If at this point you’re thinking, “Hey, isn’t that a synopsis to that marginally-forgettable teen thriller from 2002 – Swimfan?” then you would be wrong. I’m actually referring to Crush, a new film from the writer of the 2011 shit-show, The Roommate. Now, if you’re anything like me, your brain is forcing you to ask, is there any possible way that a movie that sounds an awful lot like a sub-par thriller and is penned by the writer of one of the worst movies ever could be of any quality? Yes, yes there is.
Surprisingly, Crush is a damn good teen thriller. A mixture of Swimfan, Single White Female, and The Usual Suspects, the film is quite unlike your average high school horror flick. That said, it’s still a teen thriller. Cheesy romance cliches, a bit of silly dialogue, female characters that make my ex-girlfriends look like logical-minded angels, and all of the standard goofiness that comes with being a hormonal teenager are present. While these elements will undoubtedly turn off some of the elder-spirited members of the audience, I welcomed them with open arms and an open mind.
The aspect that sets Crush apart from other films of the genre is its characters. In addition to the main cast, Caitriona Balfe (Super 8) and Leigh Whannell (Insidious) are excellent as employees at a record store who try to give Bess dating advice. All of the acting performances are top-notch and believable. But everyone onscreen is flawed in one respect or another, and it makes for great tension in many scenes. Nobody is perfect, which means that everyone is a suspect. Though it is occasionally convoluted, major props must be given to the filmmakers for ensuring that virtually every character with a speaking role is a possible suspect at one point or another. While I can generally see the “twist” endings of thriller films coming from a mile away, I was truly surprised multiple times during Crush.
Gore-hounds be warned, Crush is clearly marketed towards a teenage audience and therefore carries a PG-13 rating. There are no buckets of blood, dismembered bodies, or naughty parts to be found, so if you’re looking for a gory schlock-fest – don’t bother. On the contrary, if you want a solid little thriller that is set in Bayside High on oxycontin, Crush just may be what you’re searching for.
It’s not for everyone, but Crush features a level of production value that is high enough to warrant a rental at the least. Unlike the vast majority of straight-to-video horror flicks, the film has a theatrical feel to it. It’s shame it didn’t receive a cinematic release, as I believe it could have potentially been successful at the box office. Regardless, Crush has arrived to the home video market, and I can’t recommend it enough to fans of teenage thrillers. Sonny Mallhi has completely redeemed himself as the guy who wrote The Roommate, and Malik Bader has made a fan out of me. It’s far from a classic, but Crush is definitely worth viewing on a rainy day.