'The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson': Film Review

Courtesy of Quiver Distribution
Grave robbers can hold their heads up higher.
1/10/2020

Mena Suvari plays the title role in Daniel Farrands' dramatization of the events leading up to the infamous slayings that presents an alternative theory about the murderer's identity.

Filmmaker Daniel Farrands appears to enjoy giving film critics fodder for barbs and brickbats, while also wanting to hold claim to our most dreaded awards. One of our more cathartic annual duties consists of assembling a 10 worst films of the year list and crowning an ignominious winner. It's a fairly involved process, as there is always a plethora of candidates from which to choose. Last year, his exploitative The Haunting of Sharon Tate easily took the crown. And now, less than two weeks into the new year, the director's even more appalling The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson has the dubious honor already locked up. On the positive side, the year's remaining movies can only get better from here.

Farrands, whose credits include The Amityville Murders and the screenplay for 1995's Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, seems to have settled into the perverse specialty of cinematic grave robbing. Like his previous effort, this film takes a real-life tragedy and manages to treat it in horribly tawdry and tediously uninteresting fashion.

O.J. Simpson will likely prove one of the film's only fans, since it revolves around the widely discredited theory that the 1994 murderer of Nicole and Ron Goldman was not her bitter, violence-prone ex-husband but rather Glen Rogers, a prolific serial killer known as both the "Cross Country Killer" and the "Casanova Killer." Rogers did, in fact, claim to have committed the murders, but the way it's presented here as fact you'd think that O.J. secretly bankrolled the project.

The film, spanning the last weeks of her life, is told entirely through the perspective of Nicole (Mena Suvari, conveying terror but little else), seen early on tensely spotting O.J.'s trademark white Bronco through a window and telling her friends Faye Resnick (Taryn Manning) and Kris Kardashian (Agnes Bruckner) that her ex is stalking her.

"His shoeprints are all over my garden, size 12 Brunos," she complains.

Shortly after a scene implying that Nicole and the drug and alcohol-addled Faye have a romantic relationship, Rogers (Nick Stahl, effectively creepy) shows up, in the form of a house painter whom Nicole impulsively hires. She almost immediately thereafter sleeps with him and clearly enjoys the experience, as evidenced by her orgasmic throes depicted at great length. But the affair is short-lived when she discovers him naked in her living room, talking to an imaginary figure. She soon believes she's being stalked by both O.J. (Gene Freeman) and the clearly troubled Rogers. She's so convinced of this that she freaks out at one point at an outdoor shopping mall.

The most ludicrous element of Michael Arter's screenplay involves a scene in which we see Nicole apparently attacked in her bedroom by a malevolent supernatural force which violently throws her body against the walls and the ceiling. Playing like a demented cross between 1982 horror film The Entity and Fred Astaire's ceiling dance in Royal Wedding, the sequence would become an instant camp classic if only anyone actually bothers to see this film, which is doubtful.

Eventually, of course, The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson gets down to its raison d'etre, which is graphically depicting the brutal slayings of Nicole and Ron (blandly played by Drew Roy) at the hands of a masked killer. Foregoing anything resembling restraint, Farrands presents the killings in bloody, slasher movie fashion, working his Foley artist to death recreating the sound of a blade slicing through human flesh. Incongruously, the musical underscoring consists of plaintive solo piano tinkling that might have been composed by a severely depressed George Winston.

The film shamelessly concludes with a greatest-hits assemblage of news clips related to the story, from graphic footage of the bloody corpses to the Bronco highway chase, the trial, and finally the interview years later in which O.J. blamed a mysterious figure named "Charlie" for the murders. Compared to the inanity we've witnessed for the previous 80 minutes, he seems almost credible.  

Production: Skyline Entertainment, 1428 Films, Green Light Pictures
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Cast: Mena Suvari, Nick Stahl, Taryn Manning, Agnes Bruckner, Drew Roy, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Matthew Bellows, Gene Freeman
Director: Daniel Farrands
Screenwriter: Michael Arter
Producers: Eric Brenner, Daniel Farrands, Lucas Jarach
Executive producers: Charles Arthur Berg, Jim Jacobsen
Director of photography: Ben Demaree
Production designer: Taryn Oleson
Editors: Brian D'Augustine, Dan Riddle
Composer: Michael Gatt
Costume designer: Susan Doepner-Senac
Casting: Dean E. Fronk, Donald Paul Pemrick

Rated R, 82 min.