Sexy Evil Genius is a fun low budget film propelled primarily on the cast and their interactions with one another than anything else. The story itself, though, does at least keep you on edge just trying to figure out what the main character’s ultimate goal is. I wouldn’t say this was a memorable film or anything, but it is worth a one-off viewing at least. The DVD itself has acceptable video/audio transfers while the features are underwhelming, though the commentary is enjoyable.
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Thriller
Lionsgate | R – 91 min. – $26.98 | April 9, 2013
Directed by: Shawn Piller
Writer(s): Scott Lew (written by)
Cast: Seth Green, Katee Sackhoff, William Baldwin, Michelle Trachtenberg, Harold Perrineau
Features: Commentary, “Jujitsu-ing Reality” Documentary
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Sexy Evil Genius is a dark, character-driven, comedy-thriller with a simple plot and yet complex enough to keep you on edge not knowing what will happen. It’s a rare gem of a film that, even with its flaws, is well worth the time.
The story begins in a bar where businessman Zachary (SETH GREEN) is waiting at the bar for somebody when the beautiful Miranda (MICHELLE TRACHENBERG) walks in, puts a song on the jukebox, approaches and after some innocent flirtation, discover they are there to meet the same person: their ex named Nikki (KATEE SACKHOFF). Soon enough they’re sitting at the table chatting about their relationships with her and also wondering why she was deliberately late, not to mention reaching out after years with minimal contact, and wanted the pair to meet and swap stories.
Sometime later, another one of Nikki’s former lovers comes in, Marvin (HAROLD PERRINEAU) was in a band with Nikki and he too relays the past with the woman and comparing stories, it paints different pictures of a clearly fragmented woman. Most surprising is the possibility that she had murdered a man but found not guilty by reason of insanity, only serving three years before being released. Now she’s gathered these three to a bar and has one more surprise texting she’s bringing the next “victim” with her to this meet.
And that next victim happens to be a man named Bert (WILLIAM BALDWIN)… her attorney who helped get her off on murder charges and now the couple is engaged. After something awkward “pleasantries”, including a nice bottle of Champaign, Nikki has an announcement that even startles her fiancée: she has chosen a date for their wedding and made the proclamation in the paper which does not please Bert as if/when his law partners discover it, he could be disbarred. Now everyone at the table is in a quandary, although the three others are beginning to enjoy it a bit more seeing as Bert is a scumbag who took advantage of a client who is obviously off kilter.
However, there are more twists and turns in Nikki’s possible insane, or is it insanely brilliant, plans which involves a lot of introspection as the group looks to their pasts with Nikki.
Sexy Evil Genius isn’t a great movie by any stretch but it is one I can respect. For one thing, screenwriter Scott Lew wrote the film while battling ALS and for another, when you break it all down, it’s a simple idea taking place in basically one central location (the bar) with a few flashback scenes. It’s a low budget flick that keeps you guessing just what’s up with Nikki and what her ultimate goal is at the end of the night. When it came to the screenplay and in particular the dialogue, there was something that kept nagging at me while watching. The dialogue comes across as not so much stilted but deliberate, each line or even each word specifically placed and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the respected writer/director David Mamet. So if you don’t like Mamet’s work, the dialogue here will be a major turn off.
I also enjoyed the performances from the key cast members. Seth Green is his usual self albeit playing a low-key guy with the quirks that comes with casting someone like Green; Katee Sackhoff is wonderful in the lead role as Nikki giving a masterful and fascinating performance keeping the audience interested even when she wasn’t onscreen; Michelle Trachtenberg is, as always, stunning in her role as a bisexual woman who not only shares good chemistry with Sackhoff but with Green as well (interestingly the pair missed each other on “Buffy” as Green left just as Trachtenberg entered the series); Perrineau provides some interesting elements with the group especially towards the end; and William Baldwin plays up the sleazy lawyer like any Baldwin could.
On a side note, keep an eye on a darkly funny cameo-like appearance from Anthony Michael Hall who has worked with director Shawn Piller on “The Dead Zone” television series. Until I saw the credits, I didn’t recognize him.
In the end, this low budget mystery-thriller thrives on several good performances, a story that while it meanders somewhat, at least keeps the mystery up right until the end. Speaking of the ending, while I did like the final scenes, it wasn’t completely satisfying. In any case, clocking in at under 90-minutes (sans credits), it is a quick film that is entertaining.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
The features are minimal including only a Feature Commentary with Director Shawn Piller and Actors Seth Green and Harold Perrineau. This track is pretty good offering behind-the-scenes tid-bits but, and you’ll know this listening to Green on other commentaries (two of them on Can’t Hardly Wait and every episode of “Robot Chicken”), it’s entertaining.
Also included is a documentary entitled Jujitsu-ing Reality (16:45) which is about screenwriter Scott Lew fighting through A.L.S. (a.k.a. Lou GeGehrig’s disease). It’s a wonderful story showcasing Lew’s determination and use of modern technology to continue doing what he’s loved all his life: writing.
Previews – The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, The Impossible, The Letter
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Lionsgate releases Sexy Evil Genius arrives on DVD presented with a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The picture is pretty standard for the format and given the low budget nature, it’s not the best looking transfer but certainly on the acceptable side. Colors are basically muted going for more brown tones rather than any bright colors.
AUDIO – 3.0/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is serviceable although nothing special. The dialogue levels do sound good with decent depth but the surrounds are low even whenever music comes on (via the jukebox). It’s not a bad track by any means and given this is a dialogue-driven film, it will be satisfactory for most viewers.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, Sexy Evil Genius is a fun low budget film propelled primarily on the cast and their interactions with one another than anything else. The story itself, though, does at least keep you on edge just trying to figure out what the main character’s ultimate goal is. I wouldn’t say this was a memorable film or anything, but it is worth a one-off viewing at least. The DVD itself has acceptable video/audio transfers while the features are underwhelming, though the commentary is enjoyable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman