I can't believe they even made this film.

Bret Easton Ellis' extraordinary novel American Psycho and the subsequent film of the same name enjoyed extensive and well-documented debate as a result of the creatively appalling violence they included. Opinion is divided as to whether this was entirely gratuitous or an innovative literary technique for illustrating negative extremes in a consumer-driven society. Either way, it is certain that Ellis, with his combination of motifs borrowed from Dostoevsky, incessant listing and the use of boredom as a means, in itself, to describe boredom defined an engaging style which seemed particularly relevant on the release of the book in 1991.

Clearly, Ellis was trying to use shocking metaphor to convey his frightening sociological opinions, as illustrated in his comments to the magazine Harper's Bazaar:

``When Gangsta Rap first appeared there was a frightened response to the shocking narratives of the lower-class, disenfranchised minorities speaking out against social injustice...More recently, as part of the white wannabe gangsta phenomenon, rapper Eminem kills his ex-wife, while his daughter watches, in his Bonnie and Clyde '97 video, and everybody laughs.''

And later:

``During the PC years, some people were afraid to wear furs...Once the barrier was broken, fashion designers embraced this as bad-ass attitude...High fashion now designs fur shoes, fur handbags...It's a statement saying: "I'm hip, I get the joke."''

The ambiguous story of Patrick Bateman leaves us wondering whether the horrific scenes portrayed are intended as reality or the disturbed fantasies of the protagonist. We are left questioning ourselves, wondering how much of our own lives are reality. Part of the allure of the story is that it leaves us without answers to these questions; the only thing that seems certain is that the existance of Bateman will persist unaltered.

It may come as a surprise, therefore, that the opening scene of the sequel shows us Bateman himself murdered by a twelve year old girl who then escapes from his apartment, retaining the murder weapon as a souvenir. Within the first two minutes, suspicions that the writers Karen Craig and Alex Sanger are to completely disregard the themes of the original are confirmed.

If, however, there is any doubt in the mind of the viewer, the following comments from director Morgan J. Freeman in Fangoria magazine (issue 212) may clear this matter up:

On the film itself:

``It has nothing to do with the first movie. Lions Gate just wanted to make some money off the name. Fans of the first one will hate this. People who hated the first one will love it.''

On negative comments from Bret Easton Ellis:

``Go check his bank account! He makes more money than everyone on this; he's gotta stop drinking. Anyway, if Ellis is drunk at parties and talks shit, that's fine; he wants to live that kind of life that's fine. But if I could fight him, I'd love to kick his ass.''

The style of the film is derived from current trends in US produced teen-dramas. Think an unneccessarily long double-bill of Dawsons Creek in which Joey goes around murdering her school friends for a spectacularly unbelievable reason to a soft rock soundtrack and you are more or less there.

The plot may be summarised as follows: during the campaign of terror perpetrated by Patrick Bateman, which we are now to understand was all real, he was being tracked without success by serial killer-obsessed FBI agent Robert Stockman. Stockman (played by William Shatner!) was, during this period, having an affair with a young woman named Clara who was, in turn, having an affair with Bateman. The `All American Girl', known throughout the film as Rachel Newman (played by Mila Kunis) has Clara as a babysitter on the night she took Bateman's life and made her escape. Newman subsequently became romantically obsessed with Stockman and devotes her life to the emulation of his career. The lengths she is prepared to go to in order to secure her future as an FBI agent include murder most foul and identity theft, she justifies murder as being for the greater good since she will ultimately be able to track other serial killers in her role as a top agent. The plot goes on to contradict itself, perhaps to illustrate the delusional nature of Newman, and reveal more senseless murders.

True to Ellis' original, the murderess implicitly reveals herself on two occasions in the film, an impulse mirroring that of Bateman. What is lacking, however, is any sort of empathy with the character. Throughout American Psycho, despite obvious disapproval, we sympathise with Bateman's utter lack of direction and inherent lack of motive. This theme is directly contradicted in the sequel where the character has no depth but a convoluted and explicit motive for her behaviour. There is no `in-joke' or hidden meaning to this instantly forgettable movie.

One of the few surprises is the performance of Shatner; by his own comical standards this effort is quite passable. Kunis, for her part, delivers the first-person narrative in an irritating and, at times, impenetrable drawl.

Perhaps the only place for this straight-to-video release is in the context of part of Bateman's world: rather than an extension or continuation of the original, it is an example of the mindless consumer crap, with little respect for human sensibilities, which Ellis' character so loathes. While the original leaves us hollow and exhausted, with little hope for the future, the sequel instills in us one very real hope - that this serial is, indeed, now killed.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes...

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