Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 1993. Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans Company. Screenplay by Joe Eszterhas, based on the novel by Ira Levin. Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Produced by Robert Evans. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Paul Sylbert. Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott. Film Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce, William Hoy.
Laughable adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel retains the title and a slight notion of the original plot, making the rest up as it goes along. Joe Ezterhas’s ridiculous script is meant to take advantage of the popularity of Basic Instinct one year earlier, even going so far as to hiring its star Sharon Stone for the lead role. She plays a book editor who moves into a swanky Manhattan apartment building only to discover that the woman who occupied the apartment before her was murdered, and to boot bore a more than coincidental resemblance to her. Author Tom Berenger (a useless character who was not in the original novel) befriends her, giving her many reasons to suspect that he might have been the bad guy, and then she meets sexy fellow tenant William Baldwin, who ends up winning her heart (and bed privileges to boot) but is also a bit suspicious. The plot kicks in at the point when Stone discovers Baldwin’s favourite little hobby: a totally decked-out control room, complete with a television screen for every room in the building that allows him to keep a close eye on absolutely every single one of his neighbours. Stone is at first disgusted with this invasion of privacy, but eventually the human obsession with voyeurism takes over and she too can’t resist watching. Levin’s novel is a terrifying suspense tale of entrapment, one that gradually grows so claustrophobic in its plot that the reader is left screaming to find out how the heroine will get out of her predicament. Phillip Noyce’s film version is never tense for a moment, instead trading in suspense for titillation and a stylish wardrobe, then capping it off with a nonsensical ending.