Director Peter Berg has a strangely diverse CV. He was on top form when he made the action-packed Lone Survivor last year, less so when he directed the ‘Michael Bay’esque Battleship the year before. Very Bad Things was controversial at the time of its release and divides opinion to this day. For me, however, it’s a work of art.
Starring Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, John Favreau and Daniel Stern, this is as dark as dark comedy gets. Like The Hangover’s twisted older brother, it tells the tale of a stag weekend in Vegas which goes horribly wrong. Only instead of misplacing one of their party, this particular group of revelers, ends up with a dead hooker hanging from their bathroom wall.
Debate, soul-searching and murder ensue.
Christian Slater gets type-cast as the sleazy orator type quite a bit. It’s unfortunate for an actor who is capable of so much more, as his recent turn in Nymphomania will hopefully attest. In this film, he demonstrates why studios love him playing such loathsome characters, however. Quite frankly, he’s brilliant at it. There are very few actors working today who can chew through dialogue the way Slater can and the means through which his character manipulates and twists his friends in Very Bad Things is a joy to behold.
The rest of the cast is equally excellent. Jeremy Piven and Daniel Stern play squabbling brothers. Cameron Diaz and John Favreau play an upwardly mobile couple, expecting the best of everything. The relationships between these characters and others are a manic thrill-ride. The acting may be a little on the dramatic side but that’s all part of the film’s charm.
If you haven’t seen, this, go and watch it.
It’s messed up in the best possible way.
Reviewer: Dave Coughlan