It’s hard to describe the upcoming “Swimfan” without calling it the teenage version of “Fatal Attraction.” Much like the disturbing 1987 Michael Douglas/Glenn Close thriller, “Swimfan” is a cautionary tale about what can happen when an otherwise well-meaning guy cheats on his lady and his spurned one-night stand turns, well, psycho.
Starring Jesse Bradford (“Clockstoppers”), Erika Christensen (“Traffic”) and Shiri Appleby (TV’s “Roswell”), “Swimfan” isn’t the first flick to add a teen spin to the spurned-lover-turns-knife-wielding-maniac genre. And for Bradford, who plays the hotshot high school swimmer being stalked by Christensen’s Madison Bell, it’s a tale that hits (at least somewhat) close to home. (Click for photos from “Swimfan.”)
“Yeah, I’ve been there,” he admitted. “I had a girl who I broke up with her a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, and that didn’t go over too well. She was pretty sad and she wrote me a nasty letter, and I called her up to apologize and because I didn’t want to hurt her. … And then I thought it was over, and three days later on Valentine’s Day I’m getting ready to go out with a couple friends and there’s a knock at the door. And I go to the door and it’s a plateful of Valentine’s Day cookies.”
“Me and my dad were like, ’Ooh, we hope they’re not poisoned,’ ” he said, laughing. “But yeah, of course we ate them.”
Bradford’s real-life story pales in comparison to what Madison pulls in “Swimfan.” But how do her antics — which include running someone off the road, delivering an endless stream of e-mails and shooting a couple of cops — compare with other big-screen teen stalkers?
Long before “Three Kings” and “Planet of the Apes” hit the screen and well after “Good Vibrations” rocked the airwaves, the artist formerly known as “Marky” Mark Wahlberg played David McCall in 1996’s “Fear.” David develops a nasty obsession with 16-year-old Nicole (Reese Witherspoon in a stunning early performance), who dumps him when he reveals his violent side. Throughout the course of the movie he beats a guy just for walking with her, terrorizes her family and eventually imprisons all of them, along with Nicole’s best bud Margo (Alyssa Milano), in the family house with the help of some of his ruffian buds. For sheer brutality, David is a lot scarier than Madison, though perhaps a little less deranged.
In 1993’s “The Crush,” a pre-“Clueless” Alicia Silverstone played Darian, a 14-year-old girl who stalks a much older journalist (Cary Elwes) after he rents a house from her parents. She attacks the guy’s girlfriend with a beehive in one of her more memorable moments as her crush spirals out of control. Darian’s a few chairs short of a dinette set for sure, but like “Fear”’s David, she seems a little less crazy than Madison’s jock-chasing bad girl does.
And then there’s “Poison Ivy,” the 1992 romp starring Drew Barrymore (“Charlie’s Angels”) as Ivy, a deranged teen who lures an older, married man into an affair, then loses it when he breaks it off. It takes the combined efforts of the guy and his daughter (Sara Gilbert from TV’s “Roseanne”) to put a stop to Ivy’s cruel game. Lily (Milano) and Violet (“Not Another Teen Movie”’s Jamie Pressly) took over the stalker seductress reins in “Poison Ivy 2” and “Poison Ivy: The New Seduction,” though neither of them were quite as convincingly psychotic as Barrymore in the original. Can Madison match sexy/crazy/cool with Ivy? It’s too close to call.
Audiences can decide for themselves whether “Swimfan” stands up to these other teen stalker tales this weekend when the movie hits theaters.
— Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Nick Zano