Hi there and welcome to another edition of Lisa Marie Watches An Obscure Film Via On Demand And Then Reviews It.
Last week, I watched and reviewed a 2001 guilty pleasure called Tart.
This week, I watched another film from 2001, Instinct to Kill.
Instinct to Kill begins with homicide detective Jim Beckett (Tim Abell) sitting outside a suburban house and secretly filming Tess (Missy Crider) as she dresses. As Jim watches, Tess joins her parents for dinner. Tess’s father strikes her mother. In case we needed anymore reason to hate him, Jim chuckles.
A day later, Tess is at cheerleader practice and again, she is being watched. Sitting in the bleachers, Jim films her until he finally approaches her and strikes up a conversation. Jim may be creepy but he’s also charming. Agck!
The film jumps forward 3 months. Tess and Jim are getting married. Jim and his partner Lance (Kadeem Hardison) spend the reception filming the bridesmaids and leering over all the cleavage. Bad Jim, bad!
And again, the film moves forward by 3 months. As all too often happens, the daughter of an abusive father has ended up with an abusive husband. As Jim attempts to murder Tess, Lance rushes into the house with his gun drawn. Jim is arrested and sent to prison.
3 months later, Jim escapes from prison and, after retrieving a disguise kit from his own abusive father, Jim starts to stalk his ex-wife, her family, and her friends. As Lance attempts to track down his former friend, Tess gets a bodyguard and a self-defense instructor in the form of J.T. (Mark Dacascos).
According to the imdb, Instinct to Kill was rated R for featuring “brutal violence and strong sexual content” and yes, it certainly had both of those. However, to be honest, if you toned down the violence and edited out all of the boob shots, Instinct to Kill would be an almost prototypical Lifetime movie. After all, it has all the classic Lifetime elements: a sociopathic ex-husband, a sensitive guy who teaches self-defense, and a female protagonist who comes out of it all newly empowered and confident. Fortunately, I happen to love Lifetime movies and maybe that’s why, somewhat to my surprise, I actually found Instinct to Kill to be an effective B-movie.
Some of that may also be due to the fact that Instinct To Kill’s executive producer was Mark L. Lester, who has directed some of the best B-movies of all time. (He also directed The Ex, which has become a bit of a staple on the Lifetime Movie Network.) I don’t know how involved Lester actually was with the production of this film but it feels much like a Lester film — the villain is flamboyant, the action moves quickly, and the end result packs much more of an emotional punch than you would expect.
Instinct to Kill may have a generic title but it’s definitely not a generic film. Tim Abell makes for a genuinely scary villain and Mark Dacascos is the epitome of strength and sensitivity. That said, the film’s best performance comes from Missy Crider, who believably transforms from being a helpless victim to an empowered warrior over the course of the film and, as a result, elevates the entire film.