Is there anything better than the early days of a new love affair? The fresh sensations and experiences, the all-night conversations, the surprises and wonders, the fleshy curiosities answered in and out of the bedroom, the handcuffs, knives and axes…
Norman (Matthew Settle) is a big city man with his own business, a callous nature and and a penchant for spending time with his lady friends, but his latest gal pal has shown a particular tenacity towards staying in his life as more than simply booty-call material. Dori (Katia Winter) is sexy and beautiful, but she’s also a little bit smothering. Advised by his friend (Jim Gaffigan) to drop her completely Norman instead accepts Dori’s offer for a weekend getaway to her childhood home, but what starts as a sensuous vacation turns into a family reunion that he may never escape from.
Love Sick Love tells a somewhat familiar tale, boy meets girl/girl goes psycho/boy realizes that no tail is worth this, but it does it with an unexpected sense of humor. That’s good in that the film offers up some laughs, but it’s bad in that it makes the otherwise serious and hopefully suspenseful scenes far less affecting than intended.
“Fuck you too grandma.”
The weekend starts fine with some good food, great views and even better sexual shenanigans, but when Dori’s blurted “I love you” goes unrequited she storms off more than a little upset. Norman laughs it off and awakens the next morning to a cheery girlfriend, a delicious-looking breakfast and the sound of children playing in the backyard.
Cue the double take.
It seems Dori has kept some secrets from poor old Norman, but with the help of two precocious kids, her sweet and lovable grandparents (M. Emmet Walsh, Charlotte Rae) and a list of supplies available at your finer hardware stores and bondage shops she just might be able to make this relationship work.
Director Christian Charles’ somewhat comical thriller runs a brisk 83 minutes and manages to be occasionally humorous, less frequently exciting and less satisfying overall than it could have been if it focused on just one of those tones. Ryan Oxford’s script plays pretty standard with the psychotic/spurned woman routine, but he layers it with some funny bits of dialogue. Norman has more than a few entertaining lines, but little Albert (Dean Kapica) actually wins the laugh tally if we’re keeping count.
His delivery is part of the reason the lines work, but that delivery ties in to the problematic thread running through the film. Kapica is a talented kid, no doubt, but he’s tasked with dialogue and a character that’s played bigger than it should be. The same goes for many of the gags/jokes here as they teeter on the edge of being a full-on comedy. It would work if they committed to the genre, but attempts to make it equal part thriller fail as that second half isn’t nearly as successful. Nothing ever feels dangerous, and we never really come to care for anyone onscreen.
Settle and Winter both handle the lighter fare well and show a fun, flexible rapport together that like the overall tone works best when aiming for giggles. She’s probably best known from the most recent season of Dexter, and her newfound comical side is a nice addition to her already well established sexiness. The supporting cast is more recognizable, but Gaffigan, Walsh and Rae ultimately have very little to do here.
Love Sick Love is a mildly successful piece of entertainment that exceeds most direct-to-DVD fare simply by being short and offering more than a few laughs. It wants to be more, it’s practically begging to be more, but it just isn’t meant to be.
The Upside: Some fun blackly comic moments; a couple thrills; saying F-you to Facts of Life’s Mrs. Garrett must have been satisfying
The Downside: Light tone lessens the thrills and suspense too much
On the Side: Director Christian Charles is the co-creator/writer of Jerry Seinfeld’s American Express commercial campaign