No less than two Oscar winners are hopelessly adrift in Jonathan Baker’s low-rent thriller that feels so much like a parody of a Lifetime television movie it should have starred Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. Indeed, this film feels so similar to the 2015 spoof A Deadly Adoption that featured those comic performers that it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. In any case, the aptly titled Inconceivable is something that both Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway will want to leave off their filmographies, and at this point that’s saying something.
The story revolves around affluent doctor couple Brian (Cage) and Angela (Gina Gershon), who are lovingly raising their young daughter Cora (Harlow Bottarini). Angela, who’s taken a sabbatical from work to be a full-time mother, had previously endured numerous miscarriages before Cora was conceived via in vitro fertilization. Now she’s planning on trying to become pregnant again, using eggs from the same donor.
The couple’s lives become fatefully intertwined with Katie (Nicky Whelan), a beautiful young woman who has just moved to the area with her four-year-old daughter Maddie (Sienna Soho Baker). After being introduced by mutual friend Linda (Natalie Eva Marie), Angela and Katie and their daughters become best friends. So when Katie announces she has to leave town to take a job elsewhere, Angela impulsively offers her employment as a part-time nanny and a place to stay in their guesthouse.
By then audiences will already know that Katie is up to no good, thanks to the film’s prologue, which serves mainly to demonstrate that you should never attempt to strangle someone when there’s a butcher’s knife within their reach. Not to mention the contact lenses that make Katie’s brown eyes a startling shade of blue.
You can pretty much guess the rest, as Katie rewards her benefactors by taking topless dips in their pool and being caught making love to an unknown person in the guesthouse in the middle of the day. While Brian takes these things in stride, his overbearing mother (Dunaway), who might just as well be named “Suspicious,” repeatedly voices her distrust of the new arrival. Things only get worse when Angela asks Linda to be their surrogate. Unsurprisingly, Linda meets an untimely demise and Katie steps in, with predictably terrible ramifications that threaten to tear Brian and Angela apart.
Scripted by Zoe King (whose late father, Zalman King, was an expert at this sort of B-movie erotic thriller), Inconceivable lurches from one laughably predictable, awkward moment to the next. Making his feature directorial debut, Baker — whose IMDB profile says that he owns “the #1 rated day spa in the country” and has the goal of “entertaining people by making their dreams come true” — mainly reveals that he’s watched far too many of these sorts of thrillers before. He’s also made the unwise decision of casting himself in a supporting role, an assignment he handles with the same lack of finesse as his direction.
To her credit, Gershon gives it her all, fully investing herself in her character’s increasing hysteria. To comment about a Cage performance in one of these check-cashing roles seems by now redundant. It’s more distressing that Dunaway, whose recent films include such stinkers as The Bye Bye Man and The Case for Christ, can’t find more dignified projects at this point in her estimable career.
Production: Grindstone Entertainment Group, Emmett Furla Oasis Films, Baker Entertainment Group
Distributor: Lionsgate Premiere
Cast: Gina Gershon, Nicky Whelan, Nicolas Cage, Sienna Soho Baker, Harlow Bottarini, Natalie Eva Marie, Faye Dunaway, Jonathan Baker
Director: Jonathan Baker
Screenwriter: Chloe King
Producers: Jonathan Baker, Hilary Shor, Mark Stewart, Randall Emmett, George Furla
Executive producers: Barry Brooker, Stan Wertlieb, Robert Jones, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Michael Burns, Vance Owen, Steven Saxton, Ted Fox, Kevin Koloff, Jenny Ljungberg, Daniel Herter, Delphine Perrier, Arianne Fraser, Henry Winterstern
Director of photography: Brandon Cox
Production designer: Niko Vilaivongs
Costume designer: Bonnie Stauch
Editor: Richard Byard
Casting: Michelle Lange
Rated R, 105 minutes