Zoë Lund stars in dual roles, her first being a wannabe star, Mary
Jane, a woman who ran out on her husband and son for a life as an
actress..her dream is snuffed out(pun intended)when she has the
misfortune of showing up at the massive art deco home of failed
director, Christopher Neville(Eric Bogosion), whose decorum has a
strange emphasis on flowers. Neville, reacting to Mary Jane's insulting
in a moment of furious anger, strangles her when she ridicules his
recent firing from a big budget Hollywood movie, after becoming upset
that he has a camera hidden behind a mirror to film them having sex.
Keefe Waterman(Brad Rijn)is the third party in this situation, Mary
Jean's husband, who had come to New York City to take her home, even if
it was against her will. Leaving MJ's dead cleaned body in Keefe's
station wagon on Coney Island, Neville has just gotten away with the
perfect murder. Even worse, Keefe is arrested for MJ's murder when
there were witnesses seeing the disgruntled husband forcing her into
the station wagon to go to her apartment to get some things. Neville
decides, after realizing he had recorded the murder on film, to shoot a
biography on MJ's life, with plans to implicate Keefe by getting him
out on bail and in the movie! Kevin O'Conner is Detective Phillip
Delroy, the cop on MJ's case, who is included as an adviser on the
film! It's a way for Neville(a clever, calculating, cold-blooded
bastard)to seduce Delroy by having him part of the "Hollywood process"
and soon another will become enamored in the title role, a feminist
named Andrea(Zoë Lund's second role)Keefe discovers at Salvation Army.
Andrea loses her own identity as she immerses herself in the role of
MJ, having a hard time overcoming the allure of being part of this
movie. When we see Neville strangle a blackmailer with film(that tears
into the victim's throat), we know he's not playing for keeps. When
Keefe ruins the snuff footage, Neville has plans to stage the scene
again, this time Andrea's life is in danger.
Another one of those great Larry Cohen oddities, I think he had Marilyn Monroe in mind as inspiration for the roles of Andrea and Mary Jean. It's interesting, I was thinking about actors/actresses who spend a lifetime portraying other people, and having a hard time determining where the character ends and real person begins. I think that is what really spoke to me as I was watching SPECIAL EFFECTS. I think the draw of Hollywood is what Cohen uses most in his satiric(albeit a dark one)script for the movie. Kudos to Zoë Lund for portraying two distinct personalities, Mary Jean, selfish and self-absorbed, yearning for success, and willing to bed Neville in order to do so, & Andrea, a vocal, blunt, honest woman who sees through the director's bullcrap, often calling him out for the phony that he is(as she puts it, he's always working a routine, never authentic in anything he does), but not denying the thrill of being in his film. I think Cohen establishes in the opening dialogue that Neville was destined to commit murder, describing Zapruder as his most favorite director because he caught a real murder on film. Cohen makes sure to incorporate the title within his script as Neville is notorious for blowing a budget primarily on special effects, obviously wanting to make his pictures as authentic as film will allow. Unusual synth score and, as typical for a Cohen production, good use of New York locations. I personally found SPECIAL EFFECTS a fascinating film(not average at all, although the ending where Neville finally gets his comeuppance, is kind of a cop out)with layers, and was entranced by Zoë Lund..there's just something about her that holds me in a trance, I'm not sure what it is about her. The final scene, where Andrea makes a decision to "adopt a new personality", is quite intriguing, I think..resisting Keefe's desire for her to be Mary Jean, instead of who she really is, there's a subtext regarding "playing the role" which I found compelling.
Action / Drama / Horror / Thriller
Action / Drama / Horror / Thriller
Reality and illusion collide in this thriller about a megalomaniacal movie director who murders a young would-be actress, then sets about making a feature about the deed, casting the dead woman's clueless husband as the patsy, and finding a dead ringer to play the part of the dead actress.
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May 01, 2017 at 12:07 PM