Dead Man’s Curve

Character: Emma
Directed by: Dan Rosen
Written by: Dan Rosen
Other cast: Matthew Lillard, Michael Vartan, Randall Batinkoff
Release date: 24 January 1998
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance
Running time: 1h 31min

A roommate's suicide, it seems, guarantees top grades, so two college students, rich sociopath Tim (Lillard) and ambitious scholarship boy Chris (Vartan), conspire to push their moody, under-achieving pal Rand (Batinkoff) over the edge, literally. Distressed by news that his drippy girlfriend Natalie (Thomas) is pregnant, Rand is easy prey, but just to be sure, Tim laces the victim's farewell bottle of tequila with rat poison. But when the body can't be found, and the police start sniffing around, the plot begins to unravel... A shade too clever for its own good, Rosen's wordy script operates on two levels. On one hand, Tim and Chris are students involved in an elaborate conspiracy; on the other, they're also actors playing roles in their own script. The interchange between these levels is the key: most of the dialogue is meant to be overheard and acted on by the other parties. The characters are deeply unsympathetic, but the interplay of shifting alliances draws us in, while simultaneously undermining our confidence in any of them. And the 'sucker punch' ending, which some find too glib, is a killer blow, reinforcing the film's clever, heartless misanthropy.