Artisan // 2000 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gary Militzer (Retired) // June 8th, 2001
Nowhere to run...nowhere to hide.
Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon once succinctly opined that 95% of everything is crap. Depending on your pessimism that day, the number can likely go as high as 99%.
Tell Me No Lies typifies Sturgeon's Law quite nicely, as it is complete and utter crap.
Tell Me No Lies opens with a buxom blonde walking alone in the dark. A man jumps out for no apparent reason. She knows him, so she tells him that she fears she's being followed. Thus they go back to her place, where she promptly undresses. An annoying song blasts on the soundtrack, droning on for an entire five minutes, as the man proceeds to incessantly lick her ribcage over and over again. The static camera lingers on these gigantic, silicon slabs of meat, replaying itself continually, like a looping softcore Quicktime clip. Then it all abruptly ends in a flash of red. One can assume that funds weren't available in this cheapie production to even properly stage a murder sequence, so somehow a strobing red light onscreen signifies when a killing has occurred.
Enter the Stetson hat-wearing police detective, who looks all of about 21 and fresh from the porn production being filmed down the hall. He surmises that a serial killer must be on the loose -- with only one woman dead. When the victim's sister, college radio DJ Alex Sheppard (Maxim cover girl Amber Smith), arrives in town, the killer targets her next. He calls her show and threatens her life. So she does what any normal person would do in that situation -- she sleeps with her dead sister's boyfriends and girlfriends. Over and over again. And walks around in the dark. Alone. Finally, with the police turning up no clues (since the two detectives on the case are too busy getting it on the hot tub to do any actual detecting), Alex is forced to strike back by seducing the killer to get her vengeance.
Seriously, I could write on and on about all the problems with Tell Me No Lies, but all you have to do is read that summary and look at the box shot above to know just what kind of dreadfully awful flick this is. Pitiful direction? Check. Lack of cohesive plot, mind-numbingly substandard writing, and unbelievably amateurish alleged acting? Check, check, and check. And no one involved even looks remotely interested in making this tripe, so it's not even like one of those Troma-like T&A productions that can be fun to watch every now and again, with the proper chemical accompaniment.
In his liner notes, first-time director Emmanuel Itier states that his challenge was to "turn Tell Me No Lies into a True Erotic Punk-Rock Suspense Drama...it is my hope that you will feel the energy and hunger for life pulse under your skin." It's fairly safe to say that he failed miserably on all counts. His unskilled direction here couldn't sustain even a half hour episode of Showtime's latest jiggle fest. Even for a softcore sleaze tease like this, there is an appallingly distinct lack of intelligence all around, with not a scintilla of artistic integrity to be found in a single scene. I've seen home movies shot with better camera technique and style.
Itier filmed Tell Me No Lies at his own house in Santa Barbara. It shows. He has one room within the home double for a college radio station. Other times, he tries to make his house look like an apartment complex. Or a café. Or even a bar. He utilizes his backyard for the outdoor shots, repeatedly putting characters on the same swatch of lawn, again and again. And, of course, his candlelit hot tub makes repeated appearances throughout for those multiple mammary interludes. This shoddy production design just reeks of cheapness and gives the entire film yet another air of unbelievability.
The "acting" is pitiful across the board. Wooden would be too kindly a descriptive adjective to use here. These aren't thespians; they are pretty boys and pretty girls whose talents would be best served for non-speaking porn parts. They all have very nice cosmetic surgery though, and their respective plastic surgeons should be commended for a job well done.
Joe SixPack, this disc's for you. Drink up, tune in, turn on, drop out. Tell Me No Lies is presented only in a full frame transfer. The back of the box has that dreadful moniker we DVD aficionados all cringe at: "formatted from its original version to fit your screen." I sincerely doubt that a widescreen presentation would have made much of difference here. Indeed, the pan&scan format serves its purpose: it allows the surgically enhanced breasts to better engulf Joe SixPack's screen, cutting out all that incidental background framing. While the fleshtones are natural (and this is a good thing, since there is so much stretched-to-the-limit flesh on display here), the picture is very grainy and soft. The dull picture here befits the cheap production values of this schlock.
On the audio side, Tell Me No Lies comes complete with both a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It's adequate, I suppose. The only discernible difference between the two tracks though is the music -- with the 5.1 track, the constant barrage of Grade Z trendy alterna-crap blasts out your rear speakers. You decide which is worse.
As far as extras, Artisan rounds out this dreadful package with the inclusion of its trailer and director and cast biographies, in case you want to know all about the guilty parties. In addition, there are some brief behind-the-scenes interviews. I remember reading some time ago that Kevin Smith, after watching Richard Linklater's Slacker from the back of a New Jersey theater, decided right then and there that he too could be a movie director. Folks, if Emmanuel Itier can make movies, then anyone can.
Play Misty For Me, Kalifornia, Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, Halloween, Sisters, Deep Red, Angel Heart, American Psycho, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Badlands, Serial Mom, Natural Born Killers: if you've got a jonesin' for some serial killin', then these are among the movies you should be checking out this week instead. If you want to see some silicon titillation and arousal for your male member, then just go pick up a porno, big boy. It's that simple. There is absolutely no need for rubbish like Tell Me No Lies. Save your money, and your sanity.
Did I mention that Tell Me No Lies was originally titled The Midnight Hour? Ironically enough, I reviewed another unrelated yet equally horrible so-called film similarly named The Midnight Hour for this site not too long ago. I must have done something in a past life to deserve this. Look, I watch this soul-sucking dreck so that you don't have to, period. Send those notes of thanks and gratitude in care of DVD Verdict.
Guilty as charged, and that's no lie I'm telling you.
Review content copyright © 2001 Gary Militzer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind-the-Scenes Interviews
* Director and Cast Biographies