Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mena Suvari, Nick Stahl, Taryn Manning, Agnes Bruckner, Drew Roy, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Matthew Bellows, Gene Freeman
Written by: Michael Arter
Directed by: Daniel Farrands
MPAA Rating: R for some strong bloody violence, language, sexuality and brief drug material
Running Time: 85
Date: 01/16/2020

The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (2020)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

'Murder' She Rote

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

If it weren't so flat-out cruel to the real-life people involved in this tragic story, this true-crime "thriller" might have entertained cult audiences willing to laugh at its jaw-dropping awfulness.

In The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, Nicole (Mena Suvari) is 35 and newly divorced, raising her two children by her former husband O.J. Simpson. Anxious and afraid due to her ex's frequent attempts to intimidate her, she tries desperately to get her life in order, including going to therapy and hiring handyman Glen (Nick Stahl) to get her condo into shape.

Unfortunately, after sleeping with Glen, she learns that he's not the most stable person in the world, and he threatens to kill her. The cops don't believe her, and her attempts to find out more about him come to nothing. Then, one fateful night in 1994, Nicole and her friend Ron (Drew Roy) meet a violent end. Did O.J. do it, or was it Glen?

After the great documentary O.J.: Made in America effectively categorized this tabloid story into a broader historical perspective, arguing that race and celebrity are at the center of just about everything, trashy exploitation like The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson seems even more thoughtless. It essentially wants to argue that a serial killer ("The Casanova Killer") committed the murders that O.J. was blamed for. But to do this, it cruelly asks us to watch and identify with Nicole in the months leading up to her inevitable death.

Then there's the matter of the incredibly poor filmmaking, with awkward, overwritten dialogue that seems intent on explaining things more than once (or, more likely, killing time and stretching this non-story out to 85 minutes). Wobbly camerawork, lame attempts at suspense (shadows darting past the frame, the killer magically appearing and disappearing), and a truly bizarre nightmare sequence are interspersed with dramatic moments in which Nicole hangs out with Kris Kardashian (Agnes Bruckner) and predicts her own death.

At least Taryn Manning provides a campy, unhinged performance as interior designer Faye Resnick. But otherwise, The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson is no fun.

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