By Merle Bertrand | November 9, 2002

Life can change in an instant…although sometimes the process takes a little longer. Take the life of marital bliss that Chris Thorn (Richard Ruccolo) and his lovely wife Ashley (Laura Cayonette) seemingly led. It all came crashing down however, after she was raped in her Chicago apartment as she sank into a bottomless depression that ultimately resulted in her suicide. Crushed by the loss, Chris blames himself for her death and decides not to get mad, but to get even instead.
None of this is immediately apparent when Chris answers the ad for a roommate placed by Rich Chatam (Frank John Hughes), however. A chiseled, sexist hunk with pure testosterone coursing through his veins, Rich is looking exclusively for female roommates for obvious reasons. Still, Chris eventually wheedles his way into Rich’s life, exposing the misogynistic lout to the anger Chris has simmering inside him. We soon learn that it’s an anger based on Chris’ lust to make someone pay for his pain…and it may as well be the guy who caused it.
Very little is as it seems in “Anacardium,” director Scott Thomas’ searingly intense psychological thriller, both in terms of these characters’ lives and in the way Thomas gradually reveals his narrative. Some of the plot description given above is true, some of it isn’t. Some of the plot twists and turns are more predictable than others, but the one thing that IS certain is that Ruccolo and Hughes chew up the one-location scenery with glee as they execute those switch backs.
If “Anacardium” wasn’t born as a two-man play, it should have been. It would, in fact, probably make a better play than a movie, as evidenced by Thomas’ ill-advised decision to go outside Rich’s house in a classic case of too little, too late. Still, Thomas struggles mightily to bring this claustrophobic tale to the screen and almost pulls it off. “Anacardium” may be a very near miss, but that’s not to say that it’s not an intensely creepy good time.

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