Bad Reputation Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD Released by Maverick Entertainment
I'm keeping my dog Snoopy away from you, you fucking whore. You better not try to fuck him. – Voicemail
Written and directed by Jim Hemphill
2005, Region 1, 90 minutes, Rated R
DVD released August 7th, 2007
Angelique Hennessy as Michelle
Jerad Anderson as Aaron
Danielle Noble as Wendy
Chris Basler as Steve
Dakota Ferreiro as Debbie
Mark Kunzman as Jake
Kristina Lauren as Heather
Jennifer Holloway as Carol
Self-imposed outcast Michelle (Angelique Hennessy) is a pretty, bright young lady who spends her school lunches reading under a tree and wishing she were part of the cool clique.
One day, she seems to get at least part of her wish, when the school jock, Aaron (Jerad Anderson), invites her to a party he's throwing.
Being untrusting, Michelle warily accepts his invitation, buys a new dress and goes to the party. Where she is soon drugged, raped by Aaron and his friend and duct taped to a tree for ridicule from her follow classmates and partygoers.
To make matters worse, when she arrives at school the next day, Michelle is crushed to learn she has been labeled a slut by Debbie (Dakota Ferreiro), Aaron's jealous girlfriend. Who happens to be the most popular girl in school. Soon enough, the entire school has jumped on Debbie's bandwagon, thus making Michelle's life more of a living hell.
Eventually tiring of the ridicule and meanness of her classmates, Michelle decides to dress the part, and let people think she really is a slut. But she has another reason for tramping it up — to pay back those who were responsible for both her rape and her reputation.
Take the characters from Carrie, add the rape from I Spit on Your Grave and throw in a smidgeon of She's All That, and you have Bad Reputation.
Frustratingly unoriginal, Reputation is predictable from go — right down to you knowing who's going to get it, and in what order. As mentioned, Reputation has Carrie's characters. Hell, it has more than the characters, it has a very similar plot — sans telekinesis. Both have shy girls who are outcasts for no reason, both have said shy girls asked to a big event (the prom for Carrie, the party for Michelle), both have horrible things happen to the girls (pigs' blood, rape) and both have exciting endings (the infamous prom, Michelle's second-party finale). Hell, both even have overbearing mothers and the popular girl with the heart of gold who just quite doesn't manage to make things right (Sue Snell in Carrie, Wendy in Reputation).
The rape scene is reminiscent of I Spit on Your Grave. Not quite as brutal as Grave (thank God), it's still unflinching and well directed. For not seeing much, you feel the pain Michelle is feeling. The scene is so…dirty. And cringe inducing. It feels completely different than any other scene in the film because it's the most realistic and, to a degree, exploitive. If writer/director Jim Hemphill ever decided to dip into the exploitive genre, I don't think he's have much trouble. And this is by no means a bad thing.
The She's All That smidgeon is just that, a smidgeon. It's one of those things where Michelle is too damn pretty to be an outcast (before the rape). At least the film acknowledges the fact by mentioning something along the lines of Michelle being in a Freddie Prinze movie.
What truly hurts Reputation, though, is not its lack of originality, but rather its lack of a longer script. Clocking in at 90 minutes, Reputation feels longer. Some scenes drag on entirely too long, and others — like a scene where Michelle confronts the school's guidance counselor — seem somewhat out of place. Although the guidance counselor scene did have the best delivered line in the film, so, ironically, I'm glad it was there to see. But it would do much better as a deleted scene.
Often, I say a good script will make an otherwise mediocre movie good. Reputation, however, is one of the exceptions. While the script is a novice effort, it does have moments. Yet what saves Reputation from fumbling below mediocrity is its above (B-movie) average directing and performances. Even though it's overlong due to an overshort script and its story is really, completely unoriginal, it still managed to entertain me or, rather, keep me entertained for the duration. I easily credit Hemphill's direction for this. While the story is blah, he was still able to hold my attention.
His direction, though, wouldn't mean squat if he didn't have capable actors. Fortunately, he had that with his main characters. While each was equally competent in getting it done, Danielle Noble as the popular-girl-trying-to-do-good Wendy stole the show. Not only was she the most believable of the bunch, but Hemphill was smart enough to add a little depth to her character by explaining why she wasn't so quick to jump on her friends' bandwagon (something I don't recall Snell's character from Carrie having). Her character definitely benefited from this, and, in turn, Hemphill's film benefited from her performance.
I can only see myself going back to Reputation should Hemphill make more films. But, even with its flaws, you can see a budding talent in the director and, all things considered, Reputation is a pretty damn decent start.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Audio, video and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Bad Reputation isn't something you haven't seen before, but it isn't a complete waste of time, either. There's a lot of talent both behind and in front of the camera, and it's worth a gander to see some future stars should you catch it on the tube.