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Film: Wild Things

Wild Things is a 1998 erotic thriller film directed by John McNaughton and starring Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell and Bill Murray. In some countries the film was released as Sex Crimes.

The film starts with Sam Lombardo (Dillon), a high school guidance counselor in Blue Bay, Florida, being accused of rape by Kelly Van Ryan (Richards), one of his students. Ray Duquette (Bacon) and his partner are assigned to the case. The charges appear to be unsubstantiated until Suzie Toller (Campbell) comes forward and says Lombardo raped her too. Lombardo hires low-rent lawyer Ken Bowden (Murray) to represent him and seems sunk until Suzie admits she and Kelly made up the charges to get revenge on Lombardo for past wrongs. Sam is awarded 8.5 million dollars in a settlement with Kelly's mother and suddenly everyone wants a piece. The movie devolves into a scheme of epic porportions.

There were three Direct-To-Video sequels, which largely followed the same basic plot as the original, though the sex scenes were racier.

This movie contains an enormous amount of unexpected plot twists. Beware of spoilers!


This movie contains examples of:

  • A Threesome Is Hot: Between Sam, Kelly and Suzie.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • Zig-zagged with Sam Lombardo. At first he seems like a respectable guidance counselor with a steady girlfriend. He even brushes off the advances of the wealthy woman whom he romanced in the past, then he's accused of raping the woman's daughter, a teenage girl. It turns out that he was framed for the crime. Then it turns out he and the girl were in on it together, and were carrying on an affair. It probably ends as a triple subversion.
    • Averted with Ray Duquette, whose only motivations during the entire thing are greed and sadism, never lust. However, he did have a penchant for frequenting hookers. Whom he then beats half to death for fun.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Sam and the female cop.
  • Beneath the Mask: A major theme of the film. Sam appears to be an honest, upstanding educator, but he's really a sleazy, exploitative pervert. Kelly appears to be an all-American teenage girl next door, but she's actually an angry, sexually confused cokehead who hates her family. Ray appears to be an honest if overzealous cop, but he's actually a Dirty Cop who enjoys prostitutes and is quite willing to murder anyone who pisses him off. Suzie appears to be a white-trash loser, but she's actually a brilliantly calculating Chessmaster who manipulates everyone else.

    Lampshaded by Ray, although in reference to another character.
    Ray: People aren't always what they appear to be, Jimmy. Don't forget that.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The only "white" character in the film is Ray's partner. The rest are various shades of gray, while Ray himself is the closest to black.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Bowden. He wears a neck brace when out in public for a nonexistent neck injury.
  • Caught on Tape: Ray records Suzie and Kelly having a Two-Person Pool Party.
  • The Chessmaster: Suzie although a couple of other characters come close.
  • Chick Magnet: Sam.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Subverted by Sam. Although it seems like he's upset at Ray killing Kelly on moral grounds, it's clear that he's really only concerned about a potential Spanner in the Works wrecking the plan. He has no compunctions about exploiting Kelly's love for him for sex and money, and intends to frame her for what will probably be a life sentence for Suzie's murder.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A theme of the entire film. After the "false rape accusation" scam is revealed, every character resorts to backstabbing their partners to get the money after more people are shown to have been in on it, then turn on them as well. Most of the cast ends up murdering each other.
  • Clear My Name: The movie seems to be about Sam being cleared off the False Rape Accusation. However, everything changes half-way through the movie.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Interspersed within the credits are a series of short scenes that tie the rest of the movie together, including a final one that ties Bill Murray's character with Neve Campbell's.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Suzie and possibly Kelly.
  • Dirty Cop: Ray is revealed as one of these. He was corrupt, beat hookers, murdered anyone he didn't like, and got Suzie sent to prison just for the hell of it.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The king of this type of twist would have to be this movie, where pretty much all the characters were revealed in a series of twists to be allied with one another, then revealed in another series of twists to be secretly betraying one another. Even when the movie was over, the writers threw in several more twists during the closing credits just for fun.
  • Evil Teacher: Sam Lombardo, who rapes one of his students when he gets the chance. Before it's revealed that he's a different kind of bad, as they were working together to con the girl's rich mom out of millions of dollars. Sam just seems to be a lying sleazeball...but at the end we learn that he's been sleeping with Kelly for a long time, thereby committing statutory rape.
  • Faking the Dead: The scam around Suzie's death, employing the Identification by Dental Records trope.
  • False Rape Accusation: Two teenage girls falsely accuse their high school guidance counselor of raping them in order to get revenge on him for various slights. Later on we find out that the guidance counselor was in on it; he sued the parents of one of the girls for a hefty sum after the false accusation and then the three of them split the money.
  • Fanservice: A lot of it. Kevin Bacon's penis, Denise Richards' breasts, two lesbian make-outs, and even Kelly's mom is seen nude, riding the poolboy.
  • Fatal Attraction: Subverted and gender-inverted between Ray's female partner and Sam Lombardo.
  • Fair Cop: More realistic than the model types seen elsewhere, but Ray and his partner are very attractive.
  • Gambit Pile Up: A notorious example, with reveal after reveal.
    • Plot of first film: Rich girl Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) flirts with Sam Lombardo (Mat Dillon), her guidance councellor, until at last he invites her into his house in private. Afterwards, she runs off in tears, then accuses him of rape. He claims she's lying, and given her earlier behavior, it looks like it'll be impossible to prove her case. Suddenly, another victim, Suzie (Neve Campbell) is found and is willing to testify. Then Suzie cracks on the stand and admits she's lying, making the audience think that both girls are working together to screw Sam over. Sam gets off the hook, then successfully sues Sandra Van Ryan, Kelly's mom. Then it turns out that the girls were both working with Sam to trick the mom into doing something stupid so that he could sue her and they could split the money three ways. Then Sam has to kill Suzie because she was acting like a total spazz and might have spilled the beans. Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon), a cop who has been investigating this whole thing, assaults Kelly, who shoots him in the shoulder, forcing him to shoot and kill her. It later turns out that he murdered her in cold-blood, and shot himself in the shoulder. His superiors are suspicious of him, as something similar happened with him awhile ago, and fire him. Then it turns out that he and Sam were working together to frame Kelly for Suzie's murder, and split the money two ways - except Ray decided to kill Kelly and pretend it was self-defense. Then it turns out that Sam and Suzie were working together to fake Suzie's murder and betray Ray because Ray had killed one of Suzie's friends before the movie even started. Then it turns out that Suzie never had any intention of sharing the money with Sam, and kills him. She also has genius-level intelligence. Then it turns out that Ken Bowden (Bill Murray), was working with Suzie all this time. Then it turns out that the whole thing was just an excuse to film a movie with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell making out... twice.
    • Every film in Wild Things series strives to go escalate to make each plot twenty times more convoluted and confusing than the previous film's. Chances are, if you are the protagonist, the antagonist, the victim, a background character... hell, if you're in the film, you are in on the scheme and may be weaving some incredibly complex plans of your own. If there are two things that "Wild Things" is known for, it's the incredibly sexy lesbian scenes, and this trope. Also death. Lots and lots of death.
  • Gambit Roulette: Suzie's plot had to take months, if not years, to set up. And by the end, a high school drop-out has gotten three people murdered and ended up with millions of dollars. Slightly justified by interviews with residents of her trailer park that imply she is Lex Luthor intelligent.
  • Genre Shift: It starts out as a formulaic Clear My Name plot, complete with Bill Murray as a sleazy lawyer trying The Perry Mason Method... until the one hour mark. That's when it's revealed that the defendant was working with his accusers for a damages settlement, but they all have their own plans, which quickly create a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Hates Being Touched: Suzie, although it's possible she's just faking the trait, like she is with a lot of others.
  • Identification by Dental Records: Police find some teeth by the beach and use Suzie Toller's dental records to identify them as hers and confirm her death. Later it's revealed that she knocked out her own teeth to fake her death.
  • I Miss Mom: In one of her few (if only) scenes with genuine emotional depth, Alpha Bitch Kelly Van Ryan tearfully declares "I miss dad" this to her mother. (It's revealed in the next handful of lines that he killed himself and heavily implied that this is why she's so screwed up).
  • Informed Attractiveness: One of Sam's students makes a remark about his beautiful eyes.
  • Institutional Apparel: Sam wears a blue suit during custody.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Suzie and Kelly have a physical fight, where Kelly almost drowns Suzie. It ends with them making out in the pool.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Ray threatens Suzie this way.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The entire plot revolves around Suzie convincing the other conspirators into thinking they know what the con is. Kelly thinks she and Sam will get rid of Suzie and run off together with the money. Ray thinks he and Sam will get rid of both girls, implicate Kelly in Suzie's murder, and split the money two-ways before parting. Sam thinks he and Suzie will frame Kelly for Suzie's "murder", kill Ray, and run off together with the money. Turns out the real plan was for Suzie to fake her own death with Sam's assistance, implicate Kelly, kill both Ray and Sam, and take all the money.
  • Karma Houdini: Suzie commits two murders (inadvertently causing one) and retires to the Carribean with $8.5 million dollars.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sam, Kelly and Ray all deserve the fates they suffer at Suzie's hands. She gets a Pet the Dog moment when she sets aside $1 million for Ruby and Walter, the people who raised her and served as a substitute family. She also pays Bill Murray for his help.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Kevin Bacon in a short scene.
  • Mirror Scare: Used when Kelly suddenly shows up in Sam's motel room after the trial, just before it it's revealed that they were partners.
  • Nautical Knockout: Done deliberately at the end of the movie; the victim is then left to drown.
  • Out-Gambitted: Ray, Sam and Kelly are all playing their own angles to try and get the money. Suzie outsmarts them all and gets away with the money.
  • The Perfect Crime: Murderer of two (indirectly causing one), Suzie rides off into the sunset with $8.5 million dollars.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Invoked. Suzie breaks down in court to make the trial fail.
  • Post Rape Taunt: Teacher Sam Lombardo is accused of rape by a female student and another girl. They both claim that after the deed he told them "no little bitch could ever make me cum". Subverted later on when it turns out that Sam and the two girls were running a scam together.
  • Prison Rape: Implied when Ray mentions that when Suzie was convicted of drug possession, she was sent to juvenile hall at Camp Nine...which his partner immediately mentions is nicknamed Camp "Sixty-Nine".
  • Punk in the Trunk: As the Suzie in plastic.
  • Reliable Traitor: Ken Bowden.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In some ways, this is what the conspiracy is all about. Suzie wants revenge on Kelly for looking down on her and treating her like white trash, she wants revenge on Sam for not helping her out when she was sent to juvenile hall on false charges, and she wants revenge on Ray for murdering her boyfriend and sending her to juvenile hall.
  • Shower Scene: Ray Duquette steps out of a shower near the end to meet up with Sam Lombardo, his accomplice in the whole scheme.
  • The Summation: Shown in a flashback sequence at the end.
  • Surprise Incest: In the extended cut, Suzie is revealed to be Kelly Van Ryan's aunt. As part of Suzie's scheme to con her older half-sister Sandra Van Ryan (Kelly's mom) out of millions of dollars, she knowingly had sex with her own niece several times. It's subverted in that no one except Suzie was ever aware of this and Kelly never learns the truth.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Double Subverted. When Sam and Suzie are on the sailboat at the end, he is Genre Savvy enough to expect the drink to be poisoned. He relaxes when Suzie points out that she would be an idiot to try something like that, since she can't pilot the boat and they're all out in the middle of nowhere. Turns out that it is in fact poisoned, and Suzie is a genius with enough boating skills to be perfectly capable of piloting it by herself. Still, this is not what kills Sam - Suzie then releases one of the booms to knock him into the water to drown.
  • Take-That Kiss: After Suzie and Kelly's fight in the pool. Though Suzie quickly kisses back, and it's implied they then have sex. Could also be seen as a Kiss of Death if Suzie wasn't running the show
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Minus the romance. The trial revolves around Lombardo being accused of molesting Kelly and Suzie. It turns out Kelly was actually sleeping with him by choice (and for a much longer period), as does Suzie on at least one occasion.
  • Threatening Shark: In an early version of the script (see What Could Have Been on the Trivia tab), Suzie kills Ray by not only shooting him with a spear gun, but by then tossing him in the water and throwing in a bucketful of chum after him. This attracts a school of sharks, who rip Ray apart in a feeding frenzy.
  • Title Drop: An odd Double Subverted example. The original title of the film was Sex Crimes, which is one of the first phrases spoken in the film during the high school's opening presentation about sexual harassment. It was changed to Wild Things later on, but the title was retained in several foreign countries.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Suzie is shown pulling out one of their own teeth during the closing credits.
  • Tropical Epilogue: Packed with revelations.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Ray is asked to do this after his second lawful shooting, due to the (well-founded) fear of Da Chief that with that kind of luck, the shootings might not be so lawful after all. Of course, this isn't where the consequences end.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Hot lesbian pool sex.
  • Vigilante Man: Ray Duquette or so it first appears
  • Woman Scorned: Invoked. Kelly accuses Sam of rape because he turned her down.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ray Duquette certainly would. Underneath the surface he's actually an abusive, misogynistic prick who beats hookers and happily agrees to the murder of at least two teenage girls, killing one by breaking into her home and shooting her in cold blood.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Zigzagged by Sam. Although he's pissed off at murdering Kelly, it has more to do because he's concerned about a potential Spanner in the Works than because of any concern for Kelly, given that he was ready to frame her for murder and abandon her to a lifetime in prison. On the other hand, the film's credit's sequence reveals that Sam is also horrified at having to remove some of Suzie's teeth to provide physical evidence for her staged murder, which she needs to do herself as a result.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Kelly, Ray and Sam.


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alternative title(s): Wild Things
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