The Crush (1993)

It’s honestly, genuinely shocking that “The Crush” even exists. Sure, the story is fairly rote in a “Lolita”-inspired “Fatal Attraction” way, digging its heels into various misogynistic tropes of women as inherently untrustworthy and manipulative, which is fairly expected from a ’90s erotic thriller (like “Never Talk to Strangers” or “The Temp” or “Mother’s Boys,” etc). However, where this one goes totally awry is the age of Alicia Silverstone’s villainous character: She’s 14 years old, and director Alan Shapiro apparently couldn’t film even a minute’s worth of footage without sexualizing her in the most egregious, unpleasant and over-the-top ways. It’s downright shocking how casually Silverstone is presented as a sexual being when the character is so young, but what makes it all the more jarring is that the movie is firmly against her: You’re supposed to hate her but also want to [REDACTED] her so bad you can barely take it, and it’s all her fault. It’s icky as all hell, to the point where the movie really should just be called “Male Gaze: The Movie.” It’s obvious that Shapiro’s perspective is entirely sympathetic to protagonist Cary Elwes, who is presented as an innocent bystander in his ongoing flirtation with a malevolent, horny child. However, the movie is just so bonkers, so shockingly leery that it becomes unintentionally fascinating in a how-did-this-happen way. Add in a ludicrous, laugh-out-loud climax that’s at once both underwhelming and entirely absurd, and you’ve got a budding camp classic waiting to happen. So grab some smart-mouthed friends, down a few bevvies and you’ll have a great time hate-watching this.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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