A man who should know better. A much younger teenager. No way should there be any kind of romance between them. Yet from the moment 14-year-old Adrian met Nick, she was crazy about him. There must be something she can say or do. Some way she can show him this is not just a crush. What can she do? What won't she do?
Romantic obsession has harrowing consequences in The Crush, a suspense thriller starring Cary Elwes (Saw, The Princess Bride), Jennifer Rubin (Bad Dreams, Screamers) and Alicia Silverstone (Clueless, The Babysitter) in her breakthrough role. Elwes plays Nick, at first flattered by Adrian'ss flirtation, then gripped with outright fear. Because what Adrian wants, Adrian gets. If she can't have her Mr. Right, no one can.
Should I feel creepy for enjoying a movie like 'The Crush'? Perhaps, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Writer/Director Alan Shapiro's suspense movie (despite being released to Blu-ray under Shout Factory's 'Scream Factory' label, it's not really violent enough to qualify as either horror or a thriller) is pretty darn entertaining for what it tries to be. No, it's not a brilliant piece of cinema, and no it doesn't contain award-worthy acting or great cinematography, but it is pretty fun – at least in a B-movie sort of way.
The movie marks the first film role of a young Alicia Silverstone, who was either 15 or 16 during the time of the shoot (most online info claims she was 15, but co-star Kurtwood Smith claims in his bonus interview footage on this release that the filmmaking began with a celebration of Silverstone's 16th birthday – Silverstone turned 16 about six months before the film's release, so depending on the shooting schedule, Smith may be correct or it's possible the party was at the end of the shoot instead of the beginning). She plays 14-year-old Adrian Forrester, who develops an unhealthy crush on 28-year-old writer Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) when her parents rent out their guest house to him.
Adrian's infatuation with Nick begins innocently enough, but when he makes it clear that he's not going to pursue anything romantic with her, she begins to lash out at him, first by carving a rather offensive bit of profanity onto the hood of his car (something that reportedly happened to Alan Shapiro in real life), and then progressing to the point where she introduces Nick's girlfriend (played by Jennifer Rubin) to the wonders of the insect world – in what qualifies as 'The Crush's only scene that belongs in the 'horror' category.
Naturally, once Nick figures out that Adrian wants to make his existence miserable, no one around him – least of all Adrian's parents (Kurtwood Smith and Gwynyth Walsh) – believe that she is capable of such horrible things, leaving Nick trying to prove his innocence once Adrian accuses him of sexual assault. Of course, Shapiro's storyline requires Nick to make some pretty stupid decisions along the way for things to escalate as bad as they do, having him come across as a borderline predator in the process. Sure, he never pursues Adrian romantically, but he doesn't kick her out of his room when he's half naked nor reveal himself (or at least close his eyes) when he finds himself in the closet of her bedroom while she's stripping right in front of him.
'The Crush', of course, was just another in a long line of 'psycho women' movies that were released to audiences in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The genre dates back to films like Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and Clint Eastwood's Play Misty For Me, but it really took off with the 1987 release of Fatal Attraction. However, the main reason why Warner Bros. may have greenlit 'The Crush' could very well have been because of the Amy Fisher case, which made headlines during the summer of 1992. The details of that incident not only make the events in 'The Crush' plausible, but tame by comparison.
But the real reason to see 'The Crush'...and, indeed, the real reason I'm giving this one a recommendation...is to see Alicia Silverstone in one of her best performances. It's kind of a shame she was never really challenged to do anything as interesting as this in her career again (granted, she's still got a lot of career left), with most of her other popular films falling squarely in the comedy genre (see Clueless and Blast from the Past). Which is not to say her acting here is top-notch, but it does turn what would be perhaps just another forgettable movie into something that's become a bit of a cult classic.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Crush' seduces on Blu-ray in a standard Elite keepcase, which houses the 50GB disc with no inserts. The flip side of the keepcase's slick (seen from inside the case) contains a still from the movie of Alicia Silverstone in a pink and white bathing suit – encouraging buyers to feel weird about staring at her then-underage body. There are no front-loaded trailers on the disc, whose main menu contains a still of the keepcase's cover image with menu selections horizontally across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray in this release is Region A locked.
'The Crush' was shot on 35mm film using Panaflex cameras and is presented on Blu-ray in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Despite some mild stabilization issues (really only noticeable during the opening and closing credits) and the fact that there's still a small bit of dirt and debris on the print throughout, this is a pretty impressive transfer.
Film grain is present, but pushed to the background and never heavy enough to be a distraction. Colors are bright and properly saturated throughout, and skin tones are realistic and consistent. Details are also good, without appearing oversharpened. Best of all, I detected no instances of aliasing, banding, or other frequently seen glitches in the presentation. Black levels aren't quite inky deep, but they're strong enough that shadow delineation is never an issue.
Fans of 'The Crush' should certainly be happy with what they get here: a good-looking transfer that isn't overly digitally enhanced and still maintains a very film-like look to it.
When the movie first gets underway, there's an onscreen message that reads "The audio on THE CRUSH has a phasing issue. It can be heard on the previous DVD release as well. We searched for alternate audio but they all had the same issue." In other words, both the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and the English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track here have some issues.
Of course, that bit of text doesn't tell one what exactly to listen for in terms of glitches, so I can only give my overall reaction to the audio which is this: the dialogue (particularly on the 5.1 track) comes across as really low and other sounds – mostly ambient in nature, like someone walking across the room or a fan running while character Nick Eliot works on his computer – are unrealisticly louder than they should be. In fact, I got frustrated with the mix of the 5.1 track about 15 minutes into the film and switched over to the 2.0 track for the remainder of my viewing. The 2.0 track has the same problems, but they're not nearly as noticeable as when listening to the 5.1 track, and my recommendation is for everyone to just watch 'The Crush' with 2.0 audio instead of the 5.1 track.
Also, thanks to the dubbing over of dialogue to replace 'Darian' with 'Adrian' when it comes to the character that Alicia Silverstone plays, ADR use is also obvious through the movie. In fact, at one point (during a scene where Nick is talking to Adrian on the phone), we hear him say 'Adrian' when his lips aren't even moving! For those not 'in the know', this happened because Writer/Director Alan Shapiro based his film on a real-life girl he had a similar experience with, and her parents decided to sue Warner Bros. The name change in the movie (which didn't happen until its first TV airings) was a compromise by Warners to resolve the lawsuit.
In additon to the two lossless, but flawed, tracks, subtitles are available in English.
Although I suppose one could easily dismiss it as exploitative trash, it's actually surprising how well 'The Crush' holds up after all these years. Sure, parts of its plotline border on the ridiculous, but the movie doesn't pretend to be anything more than a fun little suspense flick, and it still might be the best performance Alicia Silverstone has given in her career. If you've never seen the movie, you may want to rent before buying, but I'm giving this one a recommendation.