directed by Michael Steinberg
(Columbia TriStar, 1998)

I watched Wicked several times trying to figure out if I actually missed some vital clue somewhere. I am not convinced that I did. It was a fantastic movie all the way through -- boy, it had me on the edge of my seat -- but is a total rip-off at the end. From out of na-na land comes some off-the-wall, couldn't-be-possible ending and I was left hanging, shaking my head in bewilderment. Before I go further, let me introduce you to the plot.

A woman is bludgeoned to death in what appears to be a break-in. The murder weapon must be a heavy figurine, one of a matching set that is missing. The widower, Ben Christianson (William R. Moses), is left with two daughters, Ellie (Julia Stiles) and Inger (Vanessa Zima). Ellie begins to wear her mother's clothing and jewelry, apply heavy makeup, fix candlelight dinners and otherwise seduce her father. She is bound and determined to become his lover and "replacement wife." She demands that he account for his whereabouts at all times and throws tantrums if he is late. She becomes every father's worst nightmare and Ben seems perplexed about how to handle the situation. His response is to start seriously dating, which only serves to inflame Ellie's temper and jealousy. Meanwhile, poor Inger is left out of the love circle, so she develops a close bond with this new woman.

This is a killer movie! It had me all wrapped up. Everyone in the cast played their role to perfection and everything was so credible. You would believe that this could have happened next door and that's what really makes a thriller or horror story stand out above the rest.

Stiles is brilliant in her portrayal of Ellie. It is amazing that she could go from a character like this to one like Katarina Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You, which she played equally well. Her versatility is commendable and I expect she will be around for many decades as a leading lady.

Throughout the movie, we are shown the hiding place of the murder weapon and we clearly see a person go to that hiding place and examine it. Everything leads up to this person. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming and there can be no doubt about the killer's identity. Then, when we get to the very end, the murder weapon suddenly turns up in another person's possession, a person who could not possibly have committed the murder, if earlier scenes are to be believed. There is no closure to this otherwise brilliant movie. If I had paid a quarter to see it, I would want a 50-cent refund for having my emotions jerked around! This was pathetic! I feel the director was not honest with his viewers and should apologize for treating us this way and insulting our intelligence.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 19 April 2003

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