Dead Man's Curve

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Dan Rosen

REVIEWED: 03-30-98

Take the kooky coeds of Rosen's last screenplay The Last Supper, add Scream's mordant sensibility (and its bad boy Matthew Lillard) and you have Dead Man's Curve, an amusing yet wholly derivative tongue-in-cheek thriller. The premise revolves around the rumor that if your college roommate kills himself, you receive a 4.0 for the semester. So when Harvard hopefuls Tim (Lillard) and Chris (Vartan) find their grades slumping, the only way out seems to be setting up roomie Rand (Batinkoff) for his last fall. Of course, it's never that easy, as our heroes (?) soon find out. Rosen, taking a cue from recent teen thrillers, is playing for laughs here. And he does give us many yuck-yucks at his characters' expense, like when a psychiatrist played by Dana Delaney unironically lists signs of suicidal behavior: listening to Suzanne Vega, watching Scandinavian films. What Rosen doesn't give us, however, is much credit for having a brain. And by the film's improbable ending, my disbelief was so suspended it actually hung itself. The absurdity of the scenario coupled with the skewed assessment of today's job market ("It's either an MBA from Harvard or you're flipping burgers") makes for a slick film that could fly, but ends up dead on arrival.

--Sarah Hepola

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