Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is a popular high school guidance counsellor in the affluent Miami suburb of Blue Bay who has attracted the interest of good-looking nubile socialite Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards). Kelly is the daughter of wealth – in fact, the gold-digging Sam has slept with her mother, Sandra (Theresa Russell).
That doesn’t keep Kelly from coming on to him in a big way. When she and a friend show up at Sam’s place on a weekend to wash his car for a school fund-raiser, Kelly sends her friend away and heads into Sam’s house with seduction on her mind.
But she leaves dishevelled and upset – and goes home to tell her mother that Sam has raped her.
Sam becomes the object of a police investigation by detectives Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon, who also served as executive producer) and Gloria Perez (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who in turn find trailer-dwelling Suzie Toller (scream queen Neve Campbell), a drug-addled punkish classmate of Kelly’s from the wrong side of the tracks (her dad wrestles alligators for tourists) who tells them that a year earlier, Sam had pulled the same thing on her, right down to his parting line.
Sam loses his job, house, girlfriend and yacht club privileges and winds up in jail.
The only attorney he can afford is terminally low-rent shyster Ken Bowden (Bill Murray), who seems barely a step up from a court-appointed lawyer.
However, when the case comes to trial, a surprising reversal leads to Sam’s release and an $8.5 million cash settlement with Kelly’s seething mother.
At this point, Wild Things should get interesting as characters begin to reveal their true colours and motives, and the settlement cheque becomes the object of much contention. When one character speaks of tidying up loose ends, it’s obviously a reference to eliminating all partners in the scheme.
The only question is, who will survive the deadly attrition?
But Stephen Peters’s script is filled with the kind of howlingly bad dialogue found in the worst TV potboilers and once director John McNaughton starts flipping over cards and showing his hand, the remaining moves quickly become obvious.
It’s not hard to figure out who is screwing whom here. It’s more a question of who will get to make the last play.
During the final credits, Wild Things offers scenes from the story that were not shown during the film, but McNaughton and Peters bring in two characters as masterminds who seem the least able to orchestrate the whole fandango.
The film made $56 million at the box office – nearly triple its budget – and spawned three direct-to-DVD sequels (they’re all garbage!)
Sergeant Ray Duquette
Sandra Van Ryan
Kelly Van Ryan
Detective Gloria Perez
Toi Svane Stepp