Hot off the success of Sharon Stone flashing her growler in 1992's Basic Instinct, someone had the bright idea to cast her in another absurd erotic thriller, the script of which again came from the filthy pen of Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Jade, Showgirls etc). Based on Ira Levin's novel and produced by the legendary Robert Evans, Sliver is set in a swanky New York apartment building (the titular sliver) where people seem to die with alarming regularity and a CCTV camera is around every corner.
Our Shazza appears as Carly Norris, a divorcee publishing consultant moving in to the apartment that - gasp! - housed the last person to die in the building. Carly meets the assorted characters who make up this flimsy tale, notably the handsome, toned computer geek Zeke Hawkins (Billy Baldwin) and successful author Jack Landsford (Tom Berenger), both of whom live in her building. Carly and Zeke are drawn to each other, but as more people get killed and Zeke reveals his voyeuristic nature, Carly finds her life to be in danger. I'd love to delve further into the plot and back story but I'm losing the will to live as I type. Sliver's pretty bad; it isn't The Worst Movie Ever but it's a close call. The whole thing is just so uninteresting. The sexy bits aren't sexy, the scary bits aren't scary and the revelation of the identity of the killer is as predictable as it gets. The bad guy gets killed a good ten minutes before the end of the picture, and then the movie just. . . stops.
It's obvious from the lame-duck ending that the film was hacked around plenty prior to release (apparently the identity of the killer was subject to a switcheroo, and Billy Baldwin had a climactic fight with Tom Berenger which was cut entirely from the film) and there was a whole volcano subplot that was only hinted at by Baldwin's character (“I'd like to fly into a volcano”). This is not to make excuses as there isn't a lost masterpiece sitting in some cans on a shelf somewhere, but at least that other stuff would've given the movie a bit of kick. As it is, there's very little electricity between the wooden Baldwin and the effective Stone, with Berenger playing his stock loony and everyone else doing their best to fill in the gaps.
Part of cinema's allure is that it appeals to the voyeur in all of us, allowing us to watch people live and die and everything in between. But the difference lies in that what we are watching is designed specifically to engage us, instead of the one-dimensional thrills that are surreptitiously gained by your average voyeur. So it's somewhat fitting then that this film about voyeurism is similarly un-involving. Sliver's cold colour scheme and clinical production design do little for the eye, and Phillip Noyce's direction is pedestrian at best. He returns to the same CCTV-style shots again and again (like the high, wide shot in Carly's apartment), possibly to drive home the idea that the audience themselves are peeping, but it makes for some awfully staid photography. Combine this with a boring story, a score that veers into Edam territory and a poorly conceived ending and you've got a grade-A Bernard Matthews turkey. Not even the promise of more T&A can save this one, for while it may be the 'Unrated' edition it's the exact same version that we saw originally over here in the UK. This sadly means that Billy Baldwin's hairy man-ass still gets far more screen time than Sharon Stone's lovely behind.
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