Wild Things

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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 proportions.

The straight-to-video sequels (Wild Things 2 and Wild Things: Diamond In The Rough) were panned and generally ignored. The oddest thing about them is that they copy the first film's outline -- rape accusation, threesome, then tons of betrayal -- to the point where they're just shy of being remakes. A fourth has recently come out (subtitled Foursome, natch), and there's been talk for years of a film called Backstabbers which would reunite the original Wild Things cast.

Because this movie massively depends on a wide assortment of unexpected plot twists, many of the examples are spoiler-tagged. Highlight at your own risk.


Tropes used in Wild Things include:
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • Zig-zagged to all hell with Sam Lombardo.
    • Averted with Ray, whose only motivations during the entire thing are greed and sadism, never lust.
  • 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.
  • The Chessmaster: Suzie although a couple of other characters come close.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A theme of the entire film.
  • 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.
  • Dawson Casting: Denise Richards was 27, Neve Campbell 25, both playing high school girls. Justified by some of the sexual content, which might be Squick-y if it featured actual high schoolers.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Suzie and possibly Kelly.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: In an early version of the script (see What Could Have Been, below), 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.
  • False Rape Accusation: What triggers the plot.
  • Fan Service: A lot of it. Kevin Bacon's penis, Denise Richards' breasts, two lesbian make-outs, and even Kelly's Hot Mom is seen nude, riding the pool boy.
  • Fatal Attraction: Subverted and gender-inverted between Ray's female partner and Sam Lombardo.
  • Gambit Pileup: 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 counselor, 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 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 the Wild Things series strives to 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.
  • 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-level intelligent.
  • Hates Being Touched: Suzie.
  • 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 three murders and retires to the Caribbean 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Summation: Shown in a flashback sequence at the end.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Double Subverted. When he and Suzie are on the sailboat at the end, Sam is Genre Savvy enough to expect the drink to be poisoned, but is dissuaded when Suzie assures him 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. It is in fact poisoned, and Suzie is 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.
  • Vigilante Man: Ray Duquette or so it first appears
  • What Could Have Been: This version of the script provides some additional backstory for many of the characters, in particular giving both Sam and Kelly more reason to get involved in the conspiracy. Unfortunately, this backstory was cut from the final version of the film.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The film's credits sequence reveals Sam is clearly 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. His annoyance with Ray killing Kelly rather than framing her as they agreed is also clearly more on moral grounds than the deviation itself.