Movie Review: Sliver (1993)

Sharon Stone was probably the hottest actress of the early 90s. After the blockbuster Basic Instinct, everyone was dying to know what the white hot actress was going to do next.

Sharon was offered $2.5 million to star in Sliver, the next erotic thriller from Basic Instinct scribe Joe Eszterhas. She jumped at the chance.

The movie directed by the very underrated Philip Noyce finds Sharon as Carly Norris, a newly divorced and desperately lonely 35-year-old woman who moves into a New York apartment building that has a controversial past. Carly’s life is turned upside down when she meets 25-year-old Zeke Hawkins (William Baldwin), a brilliant video game designer and horndog.

Their relationship is questioned when it is discovered that Zeke owns the building, he is a voyeur and that tenants keep dying. So what is up in the building? Who is killing the tenants? And who is more perverted Zeke or Carly?

The whole film is how technology corrupts us and how voyeurism can corrupt us. With the reality television craze, internet video chat rooms and nanny cams, this movie is even more relevant today. In some ways, its begging to be remade with technology updates to the script.

There is a scene in the movie where Billy says, “You want gossip? I’ll give you real gossip! Real life Carly. It is better than any book. It is better than any other movie. It is a soap opera. It is real life. It is a tragedy, it is funny, it is sad. It is unpredictable. Look for yourself Carly.” Back in 1993, that was one creepy ass speech. Today, that is an advertisement for the next season of Big Brother.

Sharon Stone is quite good in this movie. I love her vulnerability and how there seems to be so much going on under her eyes. It is kind of spooky when her character takes charge because there is an ounce of Catherine Trammel from Basic Instinct there. Her character is almost like what if Catherine Trammell had a nervous breakdown and did have feelings. It is a wonderful performance and it is too bad this movie is hated so much for people to remember it.

William Baldwin is well Alec Baldwin light. He’s not great and not bad here. But more on him later.

This erotic thriller works when it is focused on Zeke and Carly and their chemistry but strays when you add in supporting characters like Tom Berenger’s jealous author, Polly Walker’s coke addict and others. The ending of the film is even more insane and hardly makes sense.

Sliver suffered from “oh god one test audience didnt like it so we need to reshoot it!” syndrome that has ruined so many other films. Just because 100 people in Burbank hated it doesn’t mean the world will. Are studios really that dumb? Sadly yes!

Personally I can only think of one movie test audiences improved for me. I enjoyed Fatal Attraction’s new ending vs. the original ending. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll let you rent the DVD to find out. But that is the only example I can think of where a test audience helped.

If you read past this part you will ruin the ending for Sliver. So I caution you SPOILERS AHEAD.

In the original script by Eszterhas, Baldwin’s Zeke is the killer. And you can see the groundwork for how twisted, devious and “playing God” his character is. He did it because he is a sociopath and everyone in the building is his to control. Like puppets on strings. I understand his motive, why didn’t a clueless audience in Burbank?

The test audience hated Billy as the killer so Eszterhas wrote five more endings for the studio. I am not sure how many of them were filmed. But one of these days I’d like to hear all the endings and see the original version of this movie.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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