Basic Instinct (DVD)

The film that spawned a wave of direct-to-DVD sex thrillers, Basic Instinct is still the best of the bunch — but that’s not really saying much. It made a star of Sharon Stone, a sex God reputation for Michael Douglas and Paul Verhoeven the reputation for being a daring director. These reputations didn’t last long though, a bit like that infamous leg-crossing scene!

Douglas is Nick Curran, a grizzled detective investigating the death of a rock star who has been brutally murdered with an ice pick. The leads all point to best-selling author Catherine Tramell (Stone) whose girlfriend Roxy is as overbearing and obsessive as any man would be. Curran himself is dating police psychologist Dr Beth Garner (Tripplehorn) but finds himself increasingly attracted to Tramell. Things take a turn for the worse when the plotlines in her books start being replicated in the ever increasing body count.

OK, this has dated somewhat and it’s easy to forget how much of an impact this movie actually made in 1992. But looking at it now it’s a sad film with a flimsy plot and some really basic (no pun intended) acting. Stone is OKish as Tramell but fails to give her any depth apart from a smouldering and overly sexual aura. Douglas too battles with some really hokey dialogue, the nightclub dancing sequence is truly toe-curling and his sex “attack” on his girlfriend Garner is misjudged and not necessary. The dialogue is a catastrophe of clichés all injected with language which is designed to shock but instead just irritates. The one positive thing you can get from this movie is the score from Jerry Goldsmith, that guy was a genius.

The movie is famous for Stone’s leg-crossing sequence and here in all its digital glory still has the power to surprise. But under these sexual layers this is just a standard Gumshoe plot with sex added to increase the rating and audience takings. Verhoeven directs with his usual sledgehammer style, failing to crank up any tension and the ambiguous ending is signposted early in the movie.

All-in-all this is for people who are either too nervous to buy real smut or are fans of the leading actors. This is also being made available to buy on Blu-ray for the first time, but with no extra features this doesn’t really help sell it to the HD market.

EXTRAS ** A featurette called Blonde Poison, which is from 2001, plus The Making Of Basic Instinct from the original DVD release and a trailer — not exactly the best collection extras I’ve seen.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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