David Chirchirillo, co-writer of 2014’s vicious black comedy Cheap Thrills, turns his attention to online dating in Bad Match, the tale of a hookup gone very, very wrong. Blending contemporary concern about the dehumanizing effect of app-enabled sex with much older tropes, it isn’t quite the crazy-spurned-woman exploitation flick it seems to be. Though it’s no Fatal Attraction, the modest thriller should play well with younger viewers in its limited run.
Jack Cutmore-Scott plays Harris, a broadly drawn cad who sees nothing dickish about his habit of bedding as many women as possible and never contacting them again. When more settled-down friends like Chuck (Brandon Scott) inquire about his love-’em/leave-’em ways, he just says the women don’t give him that girlfriend feeling.
That’s certainly the case with Riley (Lili Simmons), a flaky-seeming 21-year-old. But when Harris tries to pull his usual post-coital disappearing act, Riley isn’t having it: She tries to nail down his vague “call you later” promises, asking what he’s doing the next night. Not tomorrow? How about this weekend?
The next day, Riley proves to be as stock a character as Harris is. She texts incessantly, and he ignores her until she sends a sexy selfie. (Had he already forgotten what she looks like?) He lets her come over, at which point she finds ways to insinuate herself into his life.
The action of the next few days escalates effectively, provided that one buys the shallow psychological profiles we’re being offered. (The actors certainly seem to.) But any moviegoer really interested in the effect an infinite buffet of swipeable sex has on human interactions should look elsewhere. Zachary Wigon’s The Heart Machine, released the same year as Cheap Thrills, did just that, dramatizing the new kinds of distance techno-intimacy makes possible. But here, the only critique of the Tinder mindset comes from a woman the film is busy characterizing as off her rocker.
That may be beside the point, as Bad Match clearly only aspires to be a thriller with a surprise or two up its sleeve. On that front, it’s adequate (despite offering none of the sex appeal its grindhouse-y premise suggests). As Harris’ life is increasingly wrecked by the exposure of both things he has and hasn’t done, some twists aren’t that hard to guess. But one pleasant one is that Riley isn’t entirely the needy lightweight she initially seems.
Production companies: BolderLight Pictures, MM2 Entertainment
Distributors: Orion Pictures, Gravitas Ventures
Cast: Jack Cutmore-Scott, Lili Simmons, Brandon Scott, Chase Williamson, Noureen DeWulf, Kahyun Kim
Director-screenwriter: David Chirchirillo
Producers: J.D. Lifshitz, Raphael Margules
Executive producer: Jo Henriquez
Director of photography: Ed Wu
Production designer: Kelly Fallon
Costume designer: Lydia Graboski-Bauer
Editor: Michael Block
Casting director: Amey Rene