Baldwin & Stone Lack the Basic Instincts
Released back in 1993 "Sliver" is another one of those "Basic Instinct" style movies, a thriller spiced up with sex scenes and nudity that it gains notoriety for being erotic rather than anything else. Sadly it's lack lustre in comparison even with the casting of Sharon Stone who sheds her clothing and inhibitions to appear naked in a few scenes, in fact Sharon Stone is one of the reasons why "Sliver" is a poor movie. And it is a shame as the basic premise to "Sliver", a movie about voyeurism is a good idea something which could have ended up as a truly masterful steamy thriller rather than a run of the mill one.
In "Sliver" Sharon Stone (Total Recall) stars as Carly Norris a New York book editor who having just moved into the stylish Sliver apartment block, discovers that not only does she have an uncanny resemblance to the previous tenant, Naomi Singer, but that she died falling off the apartment's balcony. At the same time she also starts a steamy affair with Zeke (William Baldwin - Backdraft) a computer games programmer who unbeknown to her actually owns the Sliver building and gets off watching the residents through a series of hidden cameras. When she starts to suspect Zeke was involved in the death of the Naomi she fears for her own life.
The initial premise of the voyeurism, the young apartment owner who basically gets off watching everyone's lives who live in his apartment block is a great idea, the sort that Alfred Hitchcock may have explored if he had been making movies during the early 90's. There is something a little clever about it tapping in on many people's primal urge to nose in on the lives of others and setting it in an apartment block makes it all that more believable. As the story unfolds the cleverness of the voyeurism allows for some interesting, often subtle, interactions with the others who live in the apartment block.
But whilst the voyeurism premise is a good basis "Sliver" ends up descending into a convoluted mess of plot holes and sex scenes obviously orchestrated to cause some sort of notoriety, which it succeeds at because "Sliver" ends up being notorious for being a poor "Basic Instinct" imitation. The whole sex aspect of "Sliver" is certainly not on a par with the steamy eroticism on show in "Basic Instinct", instead we get rudimentary sex scenes which feel manufactured rather than hot and passionate. There is no believability about the whole erotic side of the movie and descends into a case of oh Sharon Stone naked be it in the bath or having sex and that's it, with probably that bath scene being the most famous of them all.
In fact Sharon Stone is part of the movies problems as this was her follow up to "Basic Instinct" and so feels even more of a poor copy because of her appearance in a lead role. It really gives a feeling that the producers and directors intentionally tried to imitate the notoriety of its predecessor and what better way than to have Sharon Stone flaunting her naked body where necessary. It really doesn't help that Stone also struggles to give life to her character, whether that's because it's 2 dimensional or that she's playing a victim I am not sure, but it certainly comes across as a weak performance.
Sharon Stone is not helped by the lack of chemistry between her and William Baldwin who plays Zeke Hawkins, the owner of the apartments. In all their scenes together there is nothing which makes their relationship feel believable which is a shame as Baldwin doesn't do bad at generating the creepiness of a bloke who basically gets off on watching other people. Then of course there is Tom Berenger as Jack Landsford a character and performance in tune with each other as both are weak. For such an important character Landsford gets very little screen time and maybe Berenger's performance suffers because of this as he seems to be just going through the motions, giving nothing to his performance.
All of this wouldn't be so bad if "Sliver" was in fact thrilling but it's not. The storyline concentrates so much on the relationship between Carly and Zeke that there is no real build up to when the suspense aspect of the movie kicks in, preferring to concentrate on the sex. Then when finally we do get some drama away from the bedroom it's so poorly handled that you don't care who the murderer is. It all feels like a rushed after thought as if the initial purpose of "Sliver" was to entice audience with more Sharon Stone nudity and sex scenes then tag on a storyline to give it a purpose.
What this all boils down to is that in trying to capitalize on the success of "Basic Instinct" the producers of "Sliver" have wasted a good idea for a really clever thrilling movie. Instead of giving us an edge of the seat who done it we get unrealistic sex scenes which at times are laughable in their blatant attempt to entice audiences. It's no where near as good as it thinks it is and certainly isn't as good as "Basic Instinct".