Bachelor parties are, by their nature, hedonistic events. Try and make a good film about one, and you'll end up with 90 minutes of X-rated sleaze. Even worse, you could produce an embarrassing effort like Tom Hanks' Bachelor Party, or last year's easily forgotten straight-to-vid `drama' Stag - neither exactly had viewers crushing their popcorn with excitement.
But Very Bad Things, the directorial debut of Peter Berg (Chicago Hope's Dr Billy Kronk), changes all that. Berg has taken the traditional Stag Night Goes Wrong premise, twisted it, tickled it, scalded it with red-hot pokers, and fed it to the dog. The humour is pitch black, its themes are demented and it's so psychologically disturbing that you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a horror flick. But the mixing of chuckles with grisly bits will have you (thankfully) laughing before you hurl.
The early party scenes are much as expected: drink, drugs, gambling, and strippers (shot in a frighteningly brazen manner) feature heavily. But the revelry is halted by an accidental death, kicking off a murderous chain of events and a skewed exploration of the human psyche. As the friends deal with one cover-up after another, we witness the way five usually respectable guys deal with morality, wedding day hysteria, and (unsurprisingly) some very bad things.
Slater doesn't stretch his acting abilities (think Heathers), inhabiting a character who's an immoral, demonic and self-elected leader. Diaz is believable as the determined, yet neurotic, bride who'd kill to have a hassle-free dream wedding, while one-time Swinger Favreau shines as the long suffering groom-to-be. And the moral of this nasty little story? Next time you plan a stag night, try booking a Punch&Judy show. It'll be far less trouble.