According to last week’s Times magazine poll, politics, work, and real estate are the most popular topics of conversation at New York dinner parties. Aspiring raconteurs desiring an elusive dash of post-supper psychological frisson need look no further than Paul Fox’s taut ’70s throwback thriller The Dark Hours for inspiration. Harried psychiatrist Sam Goodman (Kate Greenhouse) weekends at a winter cabin with her writer-husband and his assistant, Sam’s nubile young sister—a setup itself rife with gory potential. And that’s before Sam’s former patient Harlan (Aidan Devine) and his apprentice-in-psychosis (Dov Tiefenbach) show up, shoot the family pooch, and force the threesome to engage in a few twisted, torturous games of Win, Lose, or Draw Blood. Bin the Balderdash and scupper the Scattergories, people! Enter “Strip Phoner,” a game whose rules even its demented inventors admit are made up along the way, save one requirement: “Pants first!” Devine’s giddy sex offender nearly rivals William Hurt’s preposterous gangster in A History of Violence for absurdly enjoyable line readings: “I wonder if I can send her head clean across this room?” And he absolutely kills with his rendering of “I’ve got a game you ain’t never gonna forget. It’s called Scorpion!” And . . . scene!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2005