American Psycho 2

American Psycho 2 is an execrable, in-name-only “sequel” to the excellent 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel. “If they’re not careful,” Ellis sighed when the project was first announced, “they could end up with something like the Pink Panther movies.” Besides, Ellis had already written his own follow-up — an “email show” to coincide with the first film’s release. Curious parties may visit here to read the archived AmPsych2000. It’s pretty interesting for fans of the original book/movie — it includes Patrick Bateman’s email therapy sessions, and ends with Bateman watching a prankishly recognizable in-flight movie.

American Psycho 2 wasn’t even supposed to be an American Psycho sequel. Lions Gate noticed that the first film got critical acclaim and didn’t do too poorly in theaters, so they dusted off an unrelated script (The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die) and modified it to link it (tenuously) to the first film. Thus, a story about Rachael (Mila Kunis), a homicidally driven college student who eliminates her competition for a coveted teaching-assistant spot, now begins with a flashback to her childhood run-in with Patrick Bateman (played here by somebody named Michael Kremko, in a blue face-mask). As many commentators have pointed out, this neatly invalidates the reading of the original film’s being mostly the diseased fantasy of one P. Bateman, and not reality. Here, he is a killer and he does slice up Rachael’s babysitter and Rachael does (improbably) end his reign of terror. So Ellis’ unforgettable creation is rewarded by being ice-picked by an adolescent girl. Terrific.

Director Morgan J. Freeman — unrelated to the penguin-narrating actor, but the former indie director of Hurricane Streets and Desert Blue — had plenty of stupid stuff to say about his follow-up, as told to Sarah Kendzior in Fangoria #212. Among Freeman’s more inane remarks showing that he really didn’t understand Mary Harron’s film:

– “I didn’t hate the first movie, but I didn’t like it. It bugged the shit out of me, the way it drowned itself in ’80s pop culture.”

– “I didn’t see how the first movie was a feminist movie. It just seemed like it was Bateman’s wet dream.”

– “I think the people who really like the [first] movie seem to be those guys who are really into the fonts on their business cards.”

– On Ellis’ comments on the “sequel”: “If Ellis is drunk at parties and talks shit, that’s fine….But if I could fight him, I’d love to kick his ass.”

– On his own movie: “It’s not, like, a satire of American culture, and it’s not going to be a commentary on psychosis or anything. This is about a hot, sexy superhero who’s sort of the anti-Clarice Starling.”

Sounds like he didn’t really want to make a sequel at all. And he didn’t. Freeman was actually as exasperated as anyone that Lions Gate marketed this as a sequel instead of as its own movie. Still, he didn’t have to bash a markedly superior film in order to talk up his own film, and if he was going to play all holier-than-thou, it would’ve been nice if his film were any good either as a sequel or as its own movie.

Consciously cast against type, Mila Kunis (of That ’70s Show) comes off merely bratty and annoying. The only other readily recognizable name in the cast, William Shatner, embarrasses himself mightily as the professor whose approval Rachael seeks. For a while, the movie toys with the possibility that someone else is the killer, but then the script just matter-of-factly shows Rachael going to work on her next victim. The movie is neither frightening nor funny; in fact, it’s extremely boring — even considering its 88-minute length, I still had to get up for two or three pause breaks just to get through the damn thing. Ironically, when I first heard about this project, I thought, “This could either be terrible or brilliant.” A distaff American Psycho — if written and acted as sharply and perceptively as the original, it could rock the house. Unfortunately, this is quite literally just a slasher movie with the unearned American Psycho label slapped onto it to move more units.

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