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Shock to the System (R)

Release Date: August 4th, 2006 (Tribeca Cinemas) by Regent Releasing/Here! Films.
The Cast: Chad Allen, Sebastian Spence, Michael Woods, Daryl Shuttleworth, Morgan Fairchild, Anne Marie Deluise, Rikki Gagne, Stephen Huszar, Nelson Wong, Ryan Kennedy, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Shawn Roberts, Jared Keeso.
Directed by Ron Oliver.

BASIC PREMISE: Donald (Allen), a gay private eye, investigates who murdered one of his clients and made it look like a suicide.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This occasionally by-the-numbers, yet stylish murder-mystery never ceases to entertain with its suspenseful, twisted plot. Chad Allen gives a decent performance as Donald, a gay private eye. In the opening scene, private eye Donald meets his client, Paul (Keeso), late at night but doesn’t get a chance to ask him who he must investigate that might be threatening him. After this rendezvous, Paul ends up dead in an apparent suicide which Donald immediately considers to be suspicious. He interrogates Paul’s mother (Fairchild) who obviously doubts her son killed himself and she admits that he received treatment at a special center to “repair” his homosexuality. Donald visits the center where he interrogates Paul’s therapist, Dr. Cornell (Woods). At this point, the investigation gets very interesting as Dr. Cornell seems a bit shady and other potential suspects also enter the picture. As Donald digs deeper, he puts his life at greater risk—especially during a few chase sequences on foot which get quite violent. Screenwriter Ron McGee adds some well-needed wit and comic relief with Donald’s new, witty secretary who prefers to be called the office manager. The way he gets hired is oddly comical. Morgan Fairchild has a few witty lines as well. McGee wisely includes some relatively tranquil scenes where Donald spends time with his husband, Timmy (Spence), before being interrupted by more clues in the investigation. Fortunately, director Ron Oliver uses exquisite cinematography which gives the film plenty of style and a noirish atmosphere and helps to build some tension. Admittedly, third act does get a bit convoluted, but at least it has enough surprises to hold your interest without being particularly memorable or original.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: An occasionally by-the-numbers plot and a contrived third act.


IN A NUTSHELL: A taut and stylish thriller. The plot feels occasionally by-the-numbers and a bit contrived toward the end.


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