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Scorned (Blu-ray / DVD)

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Scorned (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Billy Zane, AnnaLynne McCord, Viva Blanca

Directed by Mark Jones

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment


The phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” has been part of the cultural lexicon since the 17th century. The line is paraphrased from William Congreve’s 1697 play, “The Mourning Bride”, and the full quote is actually “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” Slightly less well known is “Hell hath no fury like a film reviewer scorned”, in this case that reviewer being me and the scorn having originated from Anchor Bay’s latest DTV endeavor, Scorned (2013). If the title wasn’t indication enough that the film you are about to watch is a love story gone awry, then the image of lead actress AnnaLynne McCord holding a knife up to her lips should get the message across. Tales of jilted lovers have been story fodder for ages, usually playing well to… ahem, scorned lovers who want some trashy cinema to vicariously live through at a depressing moment. I can’t think of an occasion more fitting to sit through this waste of 86 minutes than that, but even those who are on the rocks would be better suited to find some real entertainment to kill time. Writer & director Mark Jones’ utterly banal tale of cheating and revenge is so by-the-numbers you’d swear it was written using a Mad Libs for Scripts book.

The film opens with quite possibly the lamest expository dialogue ever seen, with text messages scrawling across a black screen saying “Do U want 2 B inside me?” and “I can’t wait 4 U” or some other juvenile crap like that. I get that they’re setting up the fact someone is cheating, but what grown man actually texts “U” to a person? The picture begins en media res as we see Sadie (AnnaLynne McCord) has drugged her boyfriend Kevin (Billy Zane) and is about to get medieval on his ass after snooping through his phone and finding out he’s been cheating. The film then flashes back a whole 28 hours to quickly establish the BBF4ever relationship between Sadie and her “friend since 2nd grade” Jennifer (Viva Bianca), which feels about as real as a pair of fake tits. When Sadie and Kevin embark upon a romantic weekend at Kevin’s ultra-modern playboy pad in the woods, she’s convinced he’s going to ask for her hand in marriage. That is, until she peeks through his cell phone and learns Kevin has been banging Jennifer on the side. As the audience, we learn Kevin is a total moron because who doesn’t put a passcode on their phone? Dude… Anyway, she pepper sprays his junk and knocks him out with a log before tying him up and force feeding him pills to keep him docile.

At this point, Sadie decides it’s a good idea to make Jennifer believe she’s left for the weekend so the two of them can get it on behind her back, so she sends her a text from Kevin’s phone inviting her up. She arrives, Sadie incapacitates her, and we then get into a tepid rendition of Saw-lite, wherein Sadie tortures the two secret lovers via a variety of household means. The filmmakers may have realized we’ve had literally nothing of substance up to this point, so they throw in the subplot of an escaped convict who just ditched the nearby prison. Cops in this town must be one step away from stupid because this guy is hitchhiking on main roads and yet they can’t seem to find him. This will be somewhat relevant later. But first, back to the “action”. Some flashbacks to her childhood reveal Sadie has always been crazy. In fact, she seems pretty damn nuts even before she goes off her rocker, making me question just how much thinking Kevin’s larger head was doing. You want to nail a crazy chick, roll the dice. But dating one? After making that decision AND leaving his phone unprotected I have zero sympathy for the guy. The punishments go on for some time before Jennifer finally makes an escape after hitting Sadie over the head. An escape that lasts a whopping few minutes since Sadie has the quickest recovery abilities outside of Wolverine and Jennifer is impossibly slow to get away. I’m hesitant to spoil anything – yes, ever for this insipid slice of crap – but needless to say, the film wraps itself up in the worst way possible. It conclusively proves the local police are sharing a single brain, and that Sadie is able to get away with literal murder despite, like, a dozen clear signs she’s psycho.

But, man, is she ever gorgeous. AnnaLynne McCord has been steaming up TVs since her debut on FX’s ran-too-long series Nip/Tuck (2003-2010), but some of her best work came from Excision (2012). That film was a perversely twisted tale of a girl with serious mental issues who continually fought against her sadistic urges. And she was really solid in the lead. I can’t say she’s delivering bad acting here – because she does play crazy way too convincingly – it’s just the material she’s given is so callow. She gets kudos for managing to elevate it ever-so-slightly. I thought she chose scripts more carefully, which is why I had been expecting Scorned to be better than the cover and synopsis would suggest.

The biggest surprise is that this wasn’t written by a novice filmmaker. This picture had “green behind the ears” written all over it, but the man behind the pen and the lens is Mark Jones, a veteran of the business since the ‘80s. The man wrote for ALF (1987-1989), but he’s best known to horror fans for writing and directing Leprechaun (1993). It’s hard to believe someone who has survived in the business so long turned in such an amateur piece of work. This has the fingerprints of a weary, doing-it-for-the-money director all over it. I get that, people gotta eat, but if you can get a film greenlighted in this town at least try to make it memorable for the right reasons.

There’s not nearly as much fault in the film’s 1.78:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image. Shot using the Arriflex Camera by Alexa, the digital image is about as crisp and sharp as you’d expect. There’s no film grain, leaving viewers to enjoy the inherent depth and detail provided by an all-digital source. Facial closeups reveal so many small details that you can see tiny blemishes under the makeup on the faces of both actresses. Shots of the woods and nearby lake look exquisite, like something out of a nature documentary. Contrast is generally solid throughout. Some background elements appear slightly hazy and washed out in a handful of shots. All in all, it’s a proficient picture that at the least makes this ugly viewing experience visually appealing. An English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound track (48kHz/24-bit) is the default option. The opening seems to be more enveloping than the rest of the picture, with a storm quietly adding some rear ambiance to the soundfield. Dialogue levels are balanced perfectly, coming through with great fidelity. The film’s score simply supports the picture instead of standing out, getting the job done in the most forgettable way possible. Most of the time, the track is front loaded and lacking in any real range. Lack of multi-channel immersion aside, it gets the job done and sounds mostly good doing it.

There are, mercifully, no extras included. Not even Anchor Bay’s requisite barrage of trailers that typically open their discs.

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  • Anthony Arrigo