- Written By: Austin Chick
- Release Date: 2/1/2013
- Directed By: Austin Chick
- Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Nicole LaLiberte, Andrew Howard, Michael Stahl-David, Liam Aiken
- Studio: Anchor Bay Films
We open on the pale, freckled and beautiful face of Nicole LaLiberte (DEXTER, HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA) as the violent redhead Lu, an almost sickly-skinny but no less seductive woman. She’s in the bathroom, putting lipstick on. She comes out into the hotel room; there’s a cop on the bed. She slinks over, asking what he wants; the cop is at a loss, no idea how he got to be so lucky. They kiss, she blindfolds him, then handcuffs him, strips him, then grabs his gun. Cue the audience and the man squirming. GIRLS AGAINST BOYS is a difficult movie to watch. It pulls no punches and is just seedy, uncomfortable, violent, but in many ways, real.
At school, Shae (SHARK and FRIDAY THE 13th’s Danielle Panabaker) chats with her friend Karen about their weekend plans. Karen invites her to a club with a band she knows, but Shae bails, having plans with her boyfriend, a thirty five year old guy newly separated from his wife. Oh joy. She’s excited for their weekend getaway, when Terry (the Jason Statham-y Andrew Howard) arrives, and quickly calls off their relationship. He wants to try it again with his wife, for his daughter’s sake. He never said anything about a daughter. This predictably wrecks Shae.
Shae follows Terry to his apartment the next day, watching him and his family. At night, she works as bartender at a club. She’s going through the motions, and goes to the break room in tears at the end of her shift. Turns out Lu bartends at the same club, and joins her in the back. She immediately knows a man is responsible for Shae’s suffering, and after meeting her, asks if she wants her to kill him. Ha ha. The pair go to a club, get hammered, dance and smooch boys and each other. It’s a kaleidoscope of irresponsibility. Shae and Lu go back to the guys’ place. Shae passes out in the bathroom, wakes up, and the boy she met the night before, Simon (Michael Stahl-David), offers to take her home. Once at her place, he refuses to leave, and it’s not long before the screen goes to black, and we know how big of a prick this guy really is. Writer-director Austin Chick (XX/XY, AUGUST) doesn’t stop there. The next day, further broken, she goes to see Terry again. He’s pissed that she’s following him, but gives her a ride back to her place. Due to her slight stalking, he assumes that she wants him, and the resulting ugly misunderstanding is just as awful and painful to watch as the previous rape scene, leading to a shattered glass table and a woman just as crushed.
It’s not long before Lu comes back in her life and she offers a path: revenge. Way too easily, the two go on a THELMA AND LOUISE-like killing spree, with Lu taking shotgun. Early on, there’s a brilliant scene involving Captain Crunch post-kill that is by far the best part of the film, and shows the pair bonding. While it’s hard to believe that Shae would go along so easily with the carnage that follows, it’s hard to imagine her being able to say no to Lu and survive. LaLiberte’s performance as Lu is what makes this movie such a skin crawling experience. She toes the line between sexy, dangerous and psychotic almost too well. It’s unsettling, and what these girls do to these guys is just as unsettling. In some ways, you think the men deserve it, and the movie puts you in a position to root for these girls or appreciate the grisly violence, but you know they’re going too far and in the end, you don’t really know who to root for, or have anyone to like (except for sweetheart Tyler), and the violence just rubs you the wrong way.
The movie plays out as a revenge fantasy against sexist, piggish, misogynist men, but in many ways the film is stylized and sexed up to appeal to men. That anachronism (and hypocrisy?) just adds to the awkwardness of the film and speaks to how hard it is to truly appreciate or enjoy the film. There’s a talented filmmaker at work here, with a talented cast, but as it unfolds, the resulting movie is a mess of blood and sex that asks you to enjoy things that are hard to, a film that would piss off feminists and bigots alike. The movie has girl power themes, then they turn against each other, while also positing that perhaps what a girl needs is a nice guy. It’s insulting and twists the great first two-third’s of the film into the rear view mirror.