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So many movies seem to just pop up out of nowhere these days. Granted, not everything can be afforded an eight week theatrical run but there seems to be a hell of a lot of low-budget fare making its first appearance on the rental shelves and now in the DVD sections of stores. Whilst direct-to-video doesn’t exactly excite even the most forgiving of movie-buffs I have to admit that this one is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Thanks to some stunning scenery and a particularly good DVD The In Crowd comes out on top.

Movie
Serial nutter Adrien Williams has just been through a mental institution due to a rather sketchy state of mind and even more bizarre circumstances that lead to her admission. Upon her release she is granted a job at the extremely attractive Cliftmont Country Club, complete with little pink T-shirt. Soon enough she befriends local hot-chick Brittany Foster who fits her snugly under her wing and proceeds to show her more than just the ropes of the country club. In a collage of drinking, sports and beautiful bodies the story moves along in an erratic fashion before settling into the nitty-gritty of a murder mystery. Lori Heuring does a serviceable job as the psycho-turned-nice-girl while Susan Ward steams up the screen as a manipulative little rich girl with an eye for something sinister. In a small quirk that actually heightened my interest over the whole movie, the girls bear an uncanny resemblance to Sarah Jessica Parker and Tiffany Amber Thiessen respectively. Both seem to have been incarnated as the B-Grade equivalents of the two screen beauties which does nothing to tear your eyes away from the telly.

The film’s greatest flaw is that it can’t decide between becoming a pure erotic drama or a suspenseful thriller, with elements of both providing a movie that is extremely hard to classify. Things change from a flesh-fest to murder mystery as quick as Lori Heuring takes her top off so confusion reigns about two-thirds of the way through the movie. Nevertheless, there is enough individuality and intrigue to sustain the interest that could be expected from this low-budget creation.

"Is that a duffelcoat she's wearing??"
Whilst the acting is closer to winning a Raspberry than an Oscar and the script is a tad clichéd at times, there is no doubt this one could be considered a naughty escape. I can’t believe this was directed by a woman. My guess is the film will be very hit-and-miss with home video audiences. Teenage boys will proclaim this a masterpiece though will probably hanker for a little more flesh, whilst traditional thriller lovers may decide this one’s a little too tame for their liking. I was no doubt surprised at how much I enjoyed this one even though there’s little to remark about, save for the stunning scenery. Let’s hope more of the direct-to-video releases strike a similar cord in the future. And more flesh, please.

Video
A nice, new film deserves a nice, new transfer and this one is no exception. Presented in 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced there is enough sharpness to give the surroundings the detail they deserve. Colours are particularly vibrant, if a little dark, and blacks are as deep as can be. Skin tones needed to be perfect with the amount of flesh on display and the transfer holds up admirably. A couple of special effects in the film, namely a scene filmed during the day that was altered to become night, suffered from the increased detail and made the alterations just a little too obvious. Other than that, some serious effort has been put into the visuals on this one.

Audio
Whilst being rather unremarkable, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack serves the film admirably. Dialogue is clear at all times and there are noticeable instances of surround use, with the music making good use of the rear speakers. The music is fitting of a low-budget thriller with all the musical cues in place to evoke the correct “ooh”s and “aah”s from the audience. Overall, a decent sound mix which accompanies the action quite well. There is also a 2.0 track included for stereo-lovers.

"Doubles, anyone?"
Extras
Perhaps surprisingly this disc has a decent spattering of extras of reasonable quality.

First up is the audio commentary from Lori Heuring and Susan Ward. While these two screen hotties impart basically no quality information throughout the whole 100-odd minutes they provide an entertaining and refreshing approach to a commentary track that succeeds in moving well away from the norm. Through all their giggles and derision the girls manage to poke fun at anything wrong with the on-screen action, make-up, clothes or Susan Ward’s ear(!) in wonderful female fashion. They even manage to make light of some of the darker sequences, letting out many more sniggers than screams. Not the best for the technically-minded but there is nothing wrong with a couple of actors taking the piss out of their own movie, though they often get serious about the fun they had and their perceptions of the films quality. Some may find their voices a little grating (which happened to me a couple of times throughout the hearing) but overall it is one of the more off-beat commentaries of recent times and is worth it for a bit of a giggle.

Next up are the three deleted scenes which lack the visual quality of the film but are a welcome addition nonetheless. Probably wouldn’t have made much of an influence over the film so one would assume they were cut for pacing reasons.

There are also interviews with the four major stars of the picture which is much better than the shoddy cast & crew bios that very few people bother to look at. Even though they perhaps take the characters a little seriously for such a film this is a pleasing extra that does nothing to harm the supplements in the slightest.

Also rounding out the package is a photo gallery, theatrical trailer and a surprising music-only track which could be someone’s cup of tea as a little bit of deep background music. Who knows.

Karrie Webb eat your heart out

Overall
One of the most surprising films of recent times, managing to retain interest and hold its appeal despite being little more than a seemingly lost erotic thriller. The two lead girls can hold their heads high as most of the, *cough*, appeal comes from their side. Definitely worth a rental for a bit of fun with your friends over a couple of bourbons and a spot of pool. I’m sure this one will find its niche among DVD lovers and sales should be steady if not surprisingly popular.  The disc enhances the film even further by providing a stunning transfer and nice array of extras to make this package somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Enjoy!


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