Friday, February 21, 2014

California Scheming: Movie Review

A thriller that becomes nothing with worthless characters.
Welcome to Malibu, California where the scenery is beautiful (but suspiciously serene), and the people are devoid of intelligence, perception, acumen, and really any and all interesting characteristics. Chloe (Gia Mantegna) is a teen who lives her life solely on the art of seduction. She finds (or planted) an injured seagull on the beach, and convinces two guys to help her take care of it. 2014

Directed by: Marco Weber

Screenplay by: Marco Weber

Starring: Gia Mantegna, Spencer Daniels and Devon Werkheiser

Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.
This is all part of her devious plan to get these guys at her beck and call so she can control them with her mind. If only this was a science fiction film, then it might actually make sense. But, no, this is a teen drama/mystery. Apparently these Californian surfer dudes have never seen a girl before because they are fascinated by this utterly ridiculous creature who uses her sexuality to make them do whatever she says – no matter how stupid or selfish she seems.

One of the guys meets another girl. At first Chloe is shocked that she isn’t the only being who can steal the attention of these guys, but then she realizes that this is just another girl she can seduce. At this point, you’re probably ready to get a hint of what Chloe is planning on doing with her seductive skills. Unfortunately, it’s nothing interesting – just committing some crimes, but most people will have stopped watching by then. It should be comparable to “The Bling Ring” or “Spring Breakers” but those both had a much more interesting group dynamic, and their crimes, and reasons for committing the crimes, were much clearer much earlier on.

The group dynamic is severely lacking here because there is no reason given for why these guys are so easily manipulated, they have zero sense of self-worth, and don’t really resemble any human being. Chloe isn’t much better because there’s no reason for us to care why she’s so insidious. She’s just another annoying Californian teen high on her looks and offers nothing else. There is no chemistry within this group, nor anything compelling.

Not surprisingly, “California Scheming” can’t overcome any of these character deficiencies. The camera work looked good – crisp, clean, clear and bright shots, and even managed some interesting effects from pool reflections. But the acting was shaky at best, and the mysterious atmosphere just got really annoying because it didn’t lead anywhere quickly or interestingly. It’s probably supposed to be a thriller but it ends up being nothing.

Similar Titles:

Spring Breakers (2012) - Breaks the spring-break-genre mold by telling a dark story of college girls going to darker and darker places.

The Bling Ring (2013) - Eventually finds the root of all evil, at least in the heart of teenage girls living in the suburbs of fame and fortune.

The Entitled (2011) - Rich kids, poor kids, their parents, and all their attitudes locked in a house.

The Devil You Know (2013) - Lacks the thrill of the story and the sense of purpose of artistic merit.

Apart (2011) - Darkness and confusion of teenage love and disaster.