Directed Mark L. Lester
Mark L. Lester might not be a filmmaker whose name you’re overly familiar with, but I’m willing to bet you’re quite familiar with some of his past films: Commando, Firestarter, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Class of 1999. He’s one of those directors whose movies, even when they aren’t especially good, have a good chance of still being quite entertaining. It is for that very reason his newest thriller, Groupie, is that much more of a disappointment.
There’s this popular rock band called The Dark Knights most famous for their song “Firing Line” that they end all of their live shows with, a set piece that concludes with the lead singer actually setting himself on fire. Anyone who remembers the fatal 2003 nightclub fire started by the pyrotechnics set off during a Great White concert will find the film’s opening sequence all-too-familiar.
Many people die in the ensuing fire, and the band gets crucified in the media. After taking a year off, their slimy manager Angus (Eric Roberts, cashing an easy paycheck) believes that short an amount of time is all it will take for the world to forget about the nightclub tragedy. I’m pretty sure multiple people burning to death in a nightclub fire started by your careless use of pyro is still going to be fresh in everyone’s memory, and titling the new album Phoenix (as in the flaming bird that rises from the ashes) probably wasn’t the classiest move either.
Lead singer Travis (Hal Ozsan, “90210”) is still a perpetually pouting wet blanket over the incident and doesn’t want to end their shows anymore with their signature fireworks. Angus insists otherwise, and, somewhat surprisingly, so does their audience. The band gets booed and has trash tossed their way when they fail to “light it up” during the comeback tour.
To a certain extent I understand their displeasure because The Dark Knights really need something extra to make the audience not notice how much their music sucks.
Travis meets Riley (Taryn Manning, “Hustle & Flow”), who very much wants to join their tour as one of the “Girl Wonders”, the band’s personal traveling gang of bitchy sex groupies. Despite him being married, despite there being something obviously phony about her entire skanky art student persona, despite arguments from fellow band members that “She’s a -1 on the 0 scale”, like all rock stars, Travis let’s his pecker do his thinking for him and allows her to join them on tour.
Groupie is one of those psycho female movies in the vein of The Roommate and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and as you can easily surmise from the title, this one is about the rock groupie from hell. There’s little mystery to Riley’s reasons for revenge, and her scheme to insinuate herself into the band’s inner circle and destroy them one-by-one is so nakedly transparent it could have easily been thwarted on several occasions if these wankers weren’t such imbeciles.
Riley’s slow-building manipulation and murder ploy can be described as nothing short of lame. That in part leads to Manning never making for a terribly compelling madwoman, and the characters she’s killing are lifeless to begin with. You would think given the nature of these psycho bitch thrillers, combined with what we’ve always been led to believe is the wild lifestyle of a touring rock band, that this film would be much trashier than it actually is. Not much blood, not much debauchery, not much of a body count, not much energy to any of it, not even campy enough to qualify as a guilty pleasure.
Given many of Mark L. Lester’s past movies, I could not help but be taken aback at how cheap looking and joyless this newest of his proved to be. Nothing typified its problems more than the tedious Lifetime Network-esque score so very wrong for a thriller about a deranged woman seeking murderous revenge against a hard rock band. Groupie barely clocks in at 75 minutes, but it’s a long 75 minutes.
1 out of 5