Wild Things (1998)

Director: John McNaughton

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Carrie Snodgrass, Jeff Perry, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray

In the opening moments, director John McNaughton effectively captures the allure of high-school guidance counsellor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon). As he walks through a crowd of students to deliver a seminar about sex crimes, it's abundantly clear how the guys idolise him and the girls lust after him. Within the wealthy clique's of Florida's Blue Bay, Sam is a popular figure who's used to being the focus of female attention, although his fortunes change when two students accuse him of rape.

From that premise, it's understandable for any worries about outdated handlings of such serious subject matter. There may be elements some find to be dated, although not in the ways one may be fearing from that premise alone. What screenwriter Stephen Peters has crafted uses that idea as a jumping-off point to take various unexpected turns, each one uncovering a thrilling layer peppered with pitch-black humour.

Be it in the humid swamps or on the sun-soaked boats, what's central to this tale are the characters excellently played by the cast. Matt Dillon exudes charm as Sam, enchanting those who fall under his radar with ease while grappling with his life shattering due to the accusations. The source of that are girls on opposite ends of the social spectrum, with Denise Richards doing fantastically as cold-blooded heiress Kelly Van Ryan, and Neve Campbell being a scene-stealing treat as high-school outcast Suzie Toller. Hot on their tails is Detective Duquette, intent on uncovering the truth through any means possible as Kevin Bacon bares all to convey the characters determination.

These add up to a riveting film that's as fascinating as it is sleazy, complete with excellent twists and turns. Granted, the subsequent reveals can be guilty of feeling rather much, as though the film's trying to keep audiences' guessing through constantly one-upping itself, though these don't detract from the revelations which absolutely work. A fascinating time-capsule from the 90s, and be sure to stay for the credits as loose ends are gloriously tied up.

Wild Things is available now in 4K UHD and on Blu-Ray from Arrow Video