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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

The Crush  (1993)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
3 Stars
(Release Date: June 21, 2016) – "The Crush" is such great fun it doesn't matter in the least that it is unapologetically formulaic. Or is it? One of the best of the "...from Hell" thrillers with which Hollywood saturated the marketplace in the 1990s following the blockbuster success of 1987's "Fatal Attraction," the film straddles the line between embracing its derivative nature and averting expectations in sly, tongue-in-cheek ways. Writer-director Alan Shapiro displays a fine talent for character observation and tawdry low-key thrills as he weaves the sordid tale of 28-year-old Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes), a journalist who relocates for work and becomes the object of increasingly dangerous infatuation for 14-year-old neighbor Adrian Forrester (Alicia Silverstone). At first, Nick is flattered by the attention, then briefly oversteps his boundaries enough to immediately pull back. By this point, however, the damage has been done and intentions misconstrued. Adrian wants Nick for herself, and she'll do whatever it takes to either win him or destroy him.

"The Crush" is a film I watched regularly on VHS during the '90s—to the point where, revisiting it over ten years after having last seen it, I still vividly remembered virtually every line, look and music cue. This is pure cinematic comfort food, a modest 85-minute studio entertainment with fleet pacing, appealing characters, and a breakthrough performance from Alicia Silverstone that still remains (alongside 1995's perfect teen satire "Clueless") possibly the best work she has ever done on film. Silverstone not only lights up the screen as the Lolita-esque Adrian, but brings unexpected layers of complexity and haunting vulnerability to a character whose devious behavior masks a confused, insecure adolescent in need of help. Throw in a wasp attack targeting Nick's new girlfriend Amy (Jennifer Rubin), a wickedly unorthodox late-night lemonade-making session, and a climax involving the fully operational carousel Adrian's dad (Kurtwood Smith) has built in their attic, and "The Crush" proves amusingly quirky enough to stand apart from the like-minded movies of the time period. Writer-director Alan Shapiro treats his characters seriously, but approaches the story—one loosely based on true events from his own life—with a pop-infused wink. This is an infectious little psychodrama, one with high replay value.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Short of its initial theatrical distribution, "The Crush" looks better than it ever has before. The opening credits have a slight faded appearance that clears up almost immediately thereafter. Colors are healthy, the uptick in detail and clarity gives the image a lively filmic attractiveness, and age-related specks and print damage are minimal. Grain is largely natural, though nighttime exteriors start to wade into noisiness. Still, all in all, this is an HD presentation that should make fans very happy. On the audio side, a disclaimer at the start alerts viewers to a phasing issue inherent to the print provided by Morgan Creek, one which was also on the previous DVD release of the film. On occasion, a slight dialogue echo can be heard, but it is so minor the viewer quickly forgets about it. A little more noticeable is the dubbing of Silverstone's character's name from the original Darian (seen in the theatrical and initial VHS release) to Adrian (on the DVD, Blu-ray and television versions)—an alteration brought about due to a lawsuit the director discusses on this disc's enjoyably candid new audio commentary. Said dubbing is not an issue with the audio track itself, but a result of hasty ADR work and voice stand-ins. The 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio is a fairly standard track for a low-budget picture from 1993, with much of the sound relegated to the front channels and music and peripheral effects filling in the surrounds. To my ears, the 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD was actually preferable. It sounds more accurate to the filmmakers' original intentions and has a heftier weight and evenness to the overall sonic mix of dialogue and music.

Blu-ray Features
  • NEW Audio Commentary with writer/director Alan Shapiro, moderated by Nathaniel Thompson
  • NEW "The Doting Father - An Interview with Kurtwood Smith" Featurette (9:59, HD)
  • NEW "Stung by Love - An Interview with Jennifer Rubin" Featurette (13:19, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:03, HD)
  • TV Spot (0:17, HD)
Bottom Line
"The Crush" performed modestly in theaters when it came out in April 1993—it made $13.6 million in the U.S. on a budget of $6 million—but quickly earned a sleeper following on video. For her star-making role, Alicia Silverstone won two MTV Movie Awards (for Breakthrough Performance and Best Villain), and fully earned both of them. When word came that Scream Factory was putting this title out on Blu-ray, there was much rejoicing (and I was leading the celebratory pack). This is a great release, one with a number of quality new special features. "The Crush" comes highly recommended on Blu-ray.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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