Animal House 2002
The Rules of Attraction loves its orgiastic, drug-fueled college life
Based on the novel by 80s coke-culture wanker Bret Easton Ellis (Less than Zero and American Psycho) and directed by Roger Avary (Killing Zoë), The Rules of Attraction presents an uncomfortable but grimly amusing look at the queasy, psycho-sexual underbelly of off-campus life.
It follows a semester in the life of three hormone/drug-imbalanced college students: Sean (Van Der Beek), a creepy/charming psychic vampire and campus drug dealer who lusts after the virginal purity of Lauren (Sossamon), who used to date bisexual predator Paul (Somerhalder), who has a hard-on for Sean. These three are the meat and potatoes of a virtual fornication stew, with peripheral characters such as Sean’s spun-out supplier, Lauren’s coke whore roommate, and Paul’s ex-boyfriend supplying the pungent seasoning. No plot here, just episodes of students jonesin’ to get their ashes hauled.
This isn’t easy going for anyone with easily offended sensibilities; it’s got every viscous substance the body can expel (well, aside from ear wax—missed that one, Roger) plus all the drugs: coke (lots of extreme close-ups of people making cat faces as they do the nasty), Ecstasy, pot, heroin, acid, and gratuitous corpse boobs. The film maintains the sensibilities of Easton’s vaguely sociopath universe; there are really no sympathetic characters to identify with. Everyone involved seems to have no other agenda than to bide their time getting loaded as they bide their time between getting laid.
Not that that is entirely inaccurate; those four to six years between high school and real life are a bacchanalian window of opportunity for a lot of students, and Avary finds intriguing ways to capture the alcohol-fuzzed distortion of the off-study sexual feeding frenzy of a certain student element. Oh, did I mention that there’s lots of drug usage?
Avary is obviously having fun here, employing a challenging time-warping narrative structure (similar at times to Pulp Fiction, which he co-wrote with Quentin Tarantino) of fast-forward/rewind that takes the movie 20 minutes just to reach the opening credits. And, speaking of Tarantino, Avary is obviously pissy over his ersatz professional relationship with the man, with Van Der Beek as an obvious stand-in (even employing that Acting 101 look of menace that Tarantino is so fond of using while on-camera) and having a wannabe filmmaker evoking his name before engaging in a grotesque date rape episode.
Call it the yuppie-Goth version of Animal House, a date movie for budding nihilists.