Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Jessica Sonneborn, Augie Duke, Paulie Rojas, Sita Young, Casey Reinhardt, Michael McLafferty
Directed by Bill McAdams Jr.
Teenage girls in a small town are being abducted, held captive in animal cages inside a barn, dressed up in sexy outfits, and forced with remote control electric shock collars to fight each other to the death in a makeshift wrestling ring as the community’s wealthiest citizens hoot and holler like the “Married with Children” studio audience while wagering big bucks on which girl will exit the ring alive; the mysterious organizer monitors and records the spectacle via close-circuit television, always shot in darkened silhouette from behind like Inspector Gadget’s arch-nemesis.
Folks, this is a real movie. I am not making any of this up. Somebody did. They titled it A Lure: Teen Fight Club, and quietly slipped it out on DVD the end of last year with less fanfare than a motion picture with such a wacko premise deserves. I want to take this opportunity to thank those people for gracing the world with such wonderful rubbish.
A Lure opens with three teenage cheerleaders somewhere in the woods after dark for reasons never made apparent, not that it will matter. One girl will get clocked in the face with a shovel by an unseen assailant in a manner typically intended as slapstick. The other two girls then turn to run only to have a giant net drop on them in an equally cartoonish fashion.
That opening had me convinced the movie I was about to watch was either going to be extremely campy or an outright comedy – A Lure is neither. There are definitely flourishes that skewer towards satire. Overall, however, this outlandish concept dares to take itself seriously and I got a weird vibe at times that certain moments designed to be tongue-in-cheek for some reason ended up being played completely deadpan as if either the director or the actors were not all on the same page. Doing so made the film more entertaining than it had any right to be – at least to me. But what do I know? I liked The Gingerdead Man.
Jessica Sonneborn (also the screenwriter) stars as Maggie, a young cop sent undercover at the high school to investigate the disappearances of several teen girls. A little hard to buy into this considering Sonneborn is nearly a foot taller than every female in the film and looks closer to 30 than 18. It helps somewhat that the other actresses almost all look more college age than teenage. But when Maggie dolls up for the big rave, her make-up and black dress making her appear even older than she already is, seeing her driving the other girls to this rave in her SUV really does give her the appearance of a mother on chaperoning duty.
Maggie never does any actual investigating. She appears to have only been undercover for about a day when she just happens to get invited to join this particular group of girls only because they desperately need a ride that night and they just so happen to be the next targets to be abducted and forced to Wrestlelicious each other to the death. Otherwise, Maggie would still be undercover and nearly blowing her cover when she again forgets she’s an adult law enforcement agent on active duty and angrily responds to getting roughhoused during field hockey practice by flipping over the Gatorade table and putting the teenage girl responsible in a potentially lethal chokehold. I believe that should have led to a three-day suspension from school and a six-month suspension from the police force.
If choking catty tweeners didn’t eventually blow her cover her idiot cop boyfriend surely would have. He continually follows her around with no consideration that she’s working undercover and that her classmates might question why a 30 year old guy is practically stalking a teenage girl. His stalker-ish ways will actually prove beneficial in the end, but he’s still an idiot.
How can I say for certain he’s an idiot?
When you propose to a woman and she tells you she’s not sure she’s ready for marriage; you then take her hand, pour out your soul about how much you love her, how you want to spend the rest of your life with her and start a family, and give her the ring, telling her that you’re willing to wait until she’s ready to say yes, and her only response to all this is to smile politely and awkwardly reply “Thank you”… It ain’t happening, buddy. Not now. Not later. This is not the woman for you and if you can’t take this hint then you are clearly an idiot.
The queen bee of the foul mouthed, cocaine snorting, high school mean girls Maggie hangs with is Brittany, so convincingly played as a manipulative, bitchy, alpha tart by newcomer Augie Duke (A girl named Augie?) that I fully expect to see Miss Duke starring in the next Cruel Intentions or Poison Ivy sequel.
Innocent Lauren is the nice girl mixed up with this group. Her brother will also get mixed up when he and his stoner buddy follow the girls into the woods.
Snotty Tina will not end up a victim because she catches a ride to the rave with the stuttering jock she’s dry humping because he drives a nice car.
“Laguna Beach” blondie Casey Reinhardt is cast against type as a bitchy blonde named Brooke. Brooke’s big moment comes late in the film when she fights back by beating one of their captors senseless with a baseball bat while screaming “Never fuck with a field hockey player!”
The first half hour plays like an episode of “21 Jump Street” spliced with an R-rated version of Mean Girls. Then it turns into a straight-up horror movie with teenager girls in the woods being terrorized and abducted by rednecks.
The horror is almost effectively handled only to repeatedly have any tension undercut by more comical shovel shots to the face and a truly ridiculous sequence in which a stoned teenage boy happens upon a teenage girl stripped to her underwear, bound and gagged to a tree, dirty, bloody, terrified to the point of whimpering, and yet his first and only reaction to this alarming visual will be to believe he’s about to get laid and needs to play this seduction smooth. No drug could make even the most hormonally overloaded teenage boy this aloof.
All the hallmarks of an unsettling horror flick building towards what you would expect given the circumstance would be young girls getting tortured or raped have been set up only for the revelation of what’s really going on, the revelation the movie had been trying to keep secret until the third act, the revelation that the DVD distributors wisely chose to spoil with the colon-ized title and plot synopsis on the DVD case…
The Gorgeous Ladies of Hostel.
The finale then veers off into a totally different direction, first with a car chase the likes of which you’d see in a 20-year old rerun of “Silk Stalkings”, and then back into horror territory for an I Know What You Did Last Summer ending that left me shrugging my shoulders as to why this final sequence existed at all other than the sense nobody was quite sure how to end the movie and the producers had probably come to the realization that the lead actress had yet to get naked and this was their last opportunity. An odd final shot tops off an odd movie that I still cannot believe was made and from the looks of the production values, for more money than you would expect a film such as this to be made for.
My biggest complaint, the one thing holding A Lure: Teen Fight Club back from fully reaching a Joe Bob Briggs level of drive-in bad movie zen, is there just isn’t enough of the teen fight clubbing: two brief matches and none until an hour in. The set-up takes so long not even bra & panty schoolgirl locker room dirty talk may be enough to hold some viewers interest until the horror portion and death matches begin. Definitely needed more in-ring action, and could have stood to be a bit trashier. Not nearly enough nudity for a film with a premise such as this.
I can come up with no defense for my enjoyment of this film other than I just did. If you seek out this film and find yourself in total disagreement, please don’t send me any hate mail. Just remember you took the word of a guy who put Mega Piranha on his list of the five best horror movies of last year.
3 out of 5
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