The Horror Honeys: 'Palmetto': In a Movie This Bad, It's Hard to Give a Shit.

'Palmetto': In a Movie This Bad, It's Hard to Give a Shit.

A Revenge Honey Erotic Thriller November Review with Linnie

Palmetto (1998)

Sometimes, you wish you could just review a movie by saying, "Blech. Don't." But sadly, that's not always enough. And during Erotic Thriller November, it's definitely not enough to avoid explaining to you why a movie starring some of our sexiest 90s actors is so... blech. But trust me when I say that Volker Schlöndorff's Palmetto is one of the most disappointing erotic thrillers I've ever seen.

Mostly because they seem to have forgotten to include the "erotic" part. Or that pesky "thrilling" element. So join me for the frustrating experience that is Palmetto: a movie that stars Gina Gershon, but instead casts Elisabeth Shue as the femme fatale, and Gershon as the put-upon girlfriend.

Seriously. Blech.

The Story: Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson) is a former cop/recently released ex-con, just trying to make it on the outside with the help of his girlfriend Nina (Gershon). Mrs. Donnelly (Shue) is a woman with a rich husband who is planning a fake kidnapping of her stepdaughter (Chloë Sevigny) to milk him of some cash. The crafty duo need Barber's help to pull it off and hire him for a nice chunk of change, but it isn't long before Barber realizes he's being scammed. Just how deep is he, and who the hell are these people who hired him anyway?

Someone get this girl some toe-est.
I wish I could say there is something to enjoy about Palmetto but there really isn't. I love a good twisty noir-style thriller as much as the next gal, but everything about this movie feels awkward and forced. The setting is perfect for a modern film noir (Florida sucks), but the misery of the locale is wasted. There is zero chemistry between Harrelson and Shue, which is a major problem considering erotic thrillers require sex scenes that are at least somewhat appealing. Maybe my "paired with Woody Harrelson" standards are a little high, especially given his almost-painful chemistry he had with Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers, but it just felt like the pairing of Harrelson and Shue was off from the get-go.

Sigh, NO chemistry.
And while I hate to bag on an actress I adore, Elisabeth Shue just seemed totally out of her element in Palmetto. While she has proven herself to be an actress of stunning capability (Leaving Las Vegas people... come on!), the truth is that "femme fatale" is just not a skill she possesses. Putting on a black pixie wig and raising your voice a few octaves does not a femme fatale make, and a scene in which Shue grabs Harrelson by the ankles and tries to prevent him from climbing a staircase had me snort laughing like a maniac. If Gina Gershon and Elisabeth Shue has switched roles, this movie could have worked. As it stood, it just didn't.

The casting director on Palmetto needs a new job.
Palmetto is the worst kind of erotic thriller: one that has all of the right elements in place, but just doesn't seem to know what to do with them.

Throughout Erotic Thriller month, we are going to be working on a far more stringent rating scale than usual. That means that if I REALLY like a film, it will probably get a three star rating. If I love a film, four stars. If I want to take a movie behind the middle school and get it pregnant, that's a five star rating right there. So with that in mind, Palmetto gets:

Erotic Thriller Rating: 1 pair of dropped panties out of 5

Palmetto is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, & DVD

Would YOU fall for ANY of this nonsense?
Tell Linnie on Twitter: @linnieloowho