Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2005

Lethal Eviction

Directed By
Written By
Cast uncredited to prevent spoilers

And you've noticed no credits this week--that's a new one, folks...and there's a reason for it.

I'm not crediting anyone this week. No directors, no writers, no cast, nobody. Because if I did it would destroy a key plot element.

You've probably caught on that this is an advance look at a movie that isn't even on shelves yet. So I have to be a little more careful than usual, lest I give something away. And there's more than a little to give away, too.

So what we have here is what I like to think of as "The Super" gone horribly, horribly awry. We've got a slumlord running a rent-controlled building and looking to sell. Considering he dies within the first five minutes, you can tell we'll be going a totally different angle here.

And indeed, we are. From one slumlord to two slumlords, slumlords so aggressive that they're looking to get their rent-controlled tenants out of the building, so they can quadruple (yes, quadruple--that's four times for those of you who don't like math much.) the rents. Slumlords so aggressive that they'll stoop to any means necessary to get their tenants out of the building, or so it seems.

A father-daughter slumlord team, no less.

Which makes me cringe, in all honesty. But still, they work out well. Especially when you consider that this is probably one of James Avery's first paying jobs since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air stopped stinking up our television screens way back in the mid nineties.

James Avery actually manages to waver between doting father and mild psychopath, which is frankly an amazing juxtaposition that I can't help but applaud, and Judd Nelson also manages to turn in a performance of no small quality as a psychiatrist with more on his mind than we think. For some strange reason, the drag queen reminded me briefly of Ashton Kutcher. Though I'm not sure exactly why....

The best thing about "Lethal Eviction" is that it's actually rather creative, in its own little way. We have a microcosm of society, with the drag queen crackheads and the violent drug dealers and the holy roller on the third floor who lives with her two dogs and the two drunk burnouts who live with the violent drug dealer. We have plots and subplots and murder sprees and assorted whatnot going on all over the place.

A plot this complex, however, can't escape without some minor flaws. For example, look towards one of the final murders toward the end. Bathtub, drug injections, drowning...look familiar? It should! You're watching an entire sequence from "What Lies Beneath" except without Harrison Ford geezering his way through it! I really can't believe this was in there--it's so blatant a thievery that it should be arrested and locked up with the crackhead drag queen.

Worse yet, we have some unresolved plot issues--for instance, things like a detective finding jewelry and a medicine bottle in a medicine cabinet. How did it get there? There are guesses, of course...but the movie never does definitively state exactly what happened, and that would have helped. Audiences shouldn't have to make guesses about where the plot is going.

Okay, so these is a really rather minor gripe in a fairly solid overall field. Let's face it--"Lethal Eviction" is a class-A murder mystery, jammed to the gills with plot twists and red herrings. The deviousness of some of these will hit you by such surprise that you will not be able to help a gasp of alarmed amazement or two as some new fact is revealed.

The ending is nothing short of harrowing, with lots of darkened-room chases and perilous moments. If that isn't good enough, we also get a fantastic plot twist to close things out on. Just remember, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You'll understand that much better when you watch the movie.

The special features didn't make an appearance for my advance screener, but I'm sure there will be some, eventually.

All in all, "Lethal Eviction" is a choice little murder mystery. It's not without its flaws, but you should get your money's worth.