By Ron Wells | January 28, 2002

Normally, I’d enjoy a tale about a bunch of snotty, spoiled rich Republican kids offing each other, but some bad acting and cheesy melodrama that wouldn’t have made the cut on “Dynasty” ruined it for me. Writer/director Max Makowski may have earned some marks four years ago with “The Pigeon Egg Strategy”, but his follow-up is just another forgettable diversion into teen slasher film mediocrity.
The fun (such as it is) begins with a little party in a big house for three couples who just graduated prep school. First up is the depressed one (Nick Stahl) whose parents died leaving him the house and all their money, and his girlfriend, the drunk one (Amber Benson). Joining them are the misogynist one (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and his date, the bitchy virgin one (January Jones). Rounding out the shindig are the closeted one (Derek Hamilton) and the slutty one (Lori Heuring). Eventually, they get tired of just drunkenly shitting on each other so they decide to play a game that allows them to do it in a different way. Can you guess what it’s called? That’s right, “Taboo”. It consists of each participant receiving a card containing a secret question asking whether you would be willing to perform some kind of sex act, such as sleep with a relative or someone of the same gender. You then write down yes or no in response and place your card into a center pile. Then you read all of the questions and the responses and guess who received which one based upon their answers. At this point, our contestants quickly lose interests. That is, until…
We find the group again together in the same house to celebrate New Year’s. Quite a bit has changed since their last gathering, and the utter lack of love in the room looks to make for a chilly night. Now the depressed one has hooked up with the even bitchier virgin and most of the others seem to have been either sabotaged and/or blackmailed in their personal lives, in strangely similar ways to their answers to that not-so-innocent game they played just a few months before. What’s going on? All fingers seem to point to the bitchy ice queen but it may not be quite that easy, particularly once the guests begin to inconveniently expire. Old family secrets and crazy plot twists ensue.
Let’s just go ahead and admit this sucked and get that out of the way. What’d you expect from another half-baked, half-finished, high-concept teen thriller? Though not devoid of the requisite plot twist or two, bad acting succeeds in snuffing any spark this dud might have had. Now that I’ve described the smell, let’s take a close look at the corpse. Now fine actors like Eddie Kaye Thomas and Amber Benson can be appealing doing most anything. Nick Stahl needs a little more to do than just look depressed for the first couple of acts. Lori Heuring gets to be a bundle of excitement as the slut but Derek Hamilton comes off a bit too callow to really give a s**t about. That would leave the major problem being the utterly dead fish known as January Jones. About the most interesting thing about her is her name. If the film had had a higher production budget, she probably would’ve been upstaged by the furniture. Unfortunately, the entire movie seems to revolve around her, and her performance barely registers on any level. What the hell? This isn’t her first acting gig. Did Makowski restrain her from actually doing anything? That’s entirely possibly as his direction and the editing fail to give the movie any kind of pep, either. At 81 minutes this is a short film, but it felt like a very, very loooong 81 minutes; the longest of my life. I don’t know, maybe the producers think the WB network audience (to whom the film seems directed with this cast) may not be so demanding, but I can’t see how anyone won’t be left wanting more.

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