Monday, July 15, 2019

Sh! I Can't Hear In the Dark!

The last time I took a chance on an early '90s sultry thriller airing on HBO my reward was Faye Dunaway shouting "cookies!" in Tom Holland's The Temp. Twas a glorious day.

With that in mind, I went back to the cable well for 1992's Whispers In the Dark. 

Let's just say we can't all be winners.

Quick Plot: We open on blurry lovemaking, which is basically a bunch of pinkish shapes melding into each other like the finale of Society. Instead of butthead jokes and face melting, we simply get Annabella Sciorra as Ann awaking from a dream and heading to her office, where she gets hit on by Jamey Sheridan, provides counseling to a very well-dressed John Leguizamo, and hears the sexual exploits of Debra Kara Unger's Eve.

Sheridan is Doug, a nice guy pilot eager to whisk the workaholic Ann off her sensibly shoe'd feet.Their first plane ride date culminates in that kind of instrumentally scored sex scene the '90s loved, with Ann declaring Doug "the gentlest man she's ever met".

This being an early '90s sexytime thriller, Doug is more than meets the eye. We're less than 20 minutes in when Ann discovers the mystery man from Eve's detailed stories is none other than her new squeeze. Eve reacts with fury, stealing some of Ann's files before hanging herself...allegedly.

Enter Anthony "Whatever Nationality You Need" LaPaglia as brash detective Morgenstern, a man with a very specific hatred of the psychiatric profession. The suspect list begins to mount as Morgenstern interrogates everyone around Ann, including her mentor/pal/therapist Alan Alda.

Checkhov's Law of Name Actors In Small Parts should answer a lot of your questions, but Whispers In the Dark doesn't seem to have the best handle on how to ask them in the first place. Sciorra is fine in the lead, but writer/director Christopher Crowe (penner of 1996's roller coaster game changer Fear) doesn't really have a great handle on how to put the steam in what's supposed to be an erotic thriller. He gets a lot of help from the always-reliable-to-ooze-sensuality Unger, but her character's gone too soon, leaving us instead with such riveting scenes as Ann hanging out with Doug's conservative Iowan mom as she drives around town to show off the local bank.

Basic Instinct, this ain't. Heck, Whispers In the Dark makes Body of Evidence and Sliver look like bonafide classics, and trust me: that's not easy. 

High Points
If you make it through Whispers In the Dark long enough, you will ultimately be rewarded with one of the more bonkers endings of the '90s involving a beachfront confrontation that culminates in a hook to the face of a beloved sweater-clad character actor, so there's that?

Low Points
A goofy erotic thriller that's neither sexy nor fun is a bland, bland thing to behold

Lessons Learned
Being a detective might be considered low, working class, and unjewish

When hiding evidence, consider a place slightly less exposed than the living room shelf

Nothing says "not guilty" like hogtying up your therapist

'90s era police glass was incredibly breakable

Look, I love the stupid subgenre that is the sexy '90s thriller, but there are dozens of better choices out there. Watch one of those instead.


  1. At the top of the page shouldn`t the 2nd "I" be "in" ?.

    1. This is why I need to stop drinking when titling posts. Thanks!