Judge Daryl Loomis is always suspicious of those in muscle cars.
Young love. Jealous Hearts. Dark Secrets.
As a little insight (though surely nobody cares) into my thought process in requesting reviews, one need only look at Love Me. Under regular circumstances, there's no way I'd look to watch and write about a high school thriller/coming of age romance. I requested it, however, based on one name: Rick Bota. Likely, this is a name that few are familiar with, but as a big horror fan, it's meaningful. He was the man who took the mantle of the Hellraiser series, starting with the fifth film in the series, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, and while I may be one of the only people who believe this, ultimately directed the three best installments of the series after the first two. As much as I'd like it to be true, though, this is not a review of a Hellraiser movie, it's a review of his first non-Pinhead related feature; this is a review of a teenage thriller. How that comes out remains to be seen.
Facts of the Case
As a high school copes in the wake of the disappearance of a teenage girl, popular student Sylvia Potter (Lindsey Shaw, Devolved) falls for the new boy in school, the handsome, rich, and distant Lucas Green (Jamie Johnston, Degrassi: The Next Generation). Her friends all tell her that he's a bad seed, but she's falling in love and won't listen. When the police start hanging around, though, questioning Lucas about his involvement in the crime, Sylvia must come to terms with the fact that she may have fallen into the trap of a killer.
In a horror movie, especially those that feature a minion from Hell, it's fairly easy for me to forgive predictability, leaps of logic, and subpar acting, because I'm there for other reasons; namely, the violence. These same things, though, when trying to balance a coming of age love story and a murder thriller, are much harder to get past because both things are predicated on character and story believability. That's where we sit with Love Me, a movie without much of either, but one that isn't all bad in spite of that.
The main problem with the story is its predictability. As soon as the story gets going, there's little question as to how it's going to play. The only thing that remains in doubt is who the real culprit is, because it's quite clear it's not who it originally seems to be. Aside from a few brief attempts to portray Lucas as a villain, nearly every other character appears far more sinister. This makes the audience sit and wait for the twist to come rather than have it take anyone by surprise.
The performances are a pretty big problem, as well. They aren't terrible, but especially when it comes to the romantic aspects of the film, they have much more the tone of a television movie than a feature film. They aren't all bad, though. Lindsey Shaw is a very appealing actress, the highlight of the film, and an actress to watch. Her performance is quite likable and, given her predominant role, almost single-handedly makes the film worth watching. She's basically the only one, though, as the rest walk through their roles and lay the secrets of their characters on the table for everyone to see.
The film also looks quite good, which is the one other redeeming aspect of Love Me. Rick Bota has a cinematographer's background (he shot Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight!), and he directs the film with an assured hand and a solid style. He frames his shots very well and makes the most of his low budget to deliver a stylish and pretty image throughout. While style is very important to my enjoyment of the film, that and one good performance are not enough by itself to completely redeem an otherwise subpar production.
Love Me arrives from Anchor Bay in a good looking but minimally adorned Blu-ray disc. The 1.78:1/1080p image transfer fares quite well, with strong detail and realistic skin tones. Black levels are deep and solid throughout, while whites are nice and bright. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is crisp and clean, but there's little going on in the rear channels or the low end. Still, the dialog always sounds excellent and is nicely separated from the music, which is equally strong, at least in the front part of the spectrum.
Extras are limited to two short featurettes. The first is a basic behind the scenes piece that runs only seven minutes, but actually touches on a good number of aspects of the production. The second is a six minute discussion about how much fun the cast had on set, accompanied by bloopers, and is generally pretty worthless. The features might not be so great, but Anchor Bay's Blu-ray for Love Me is very good on a technical level.
Love Me is a decidedly mixed bag. Bota's cinematographic background delivers a good looking film and Lindsey Shaw's likability makes it completely watchable. Unfortunately, a predictable script and one-note characterizations makes for little suspense and plenty of eye-rolling moments. Ultimately, it's a fairly difficult movie to recommend, but there is enough to like to make it hard to fault somebody giving it a shot. There is enough to enjoy that, taken with diminished expectations, isn't so bad to watch.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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