James Cox

James Cox

BY Ashley AndersonPublished Nov 17, 2016

Prediction number one: if Wonderland fails with the critics, the very least it will be is a cult classic. Prediction two: this film is going to change a lot of things for a lot of people.

Three days before Independence Day in 1981, four people were brutally murdered at 8764 Wonderland Avenue in the Hollywood hills. At the time it was compared widely in scope to the Tate murders of over a decade earlier. The murders were linked to revenge for a robbery that had happened days earlier at the home of nightclub owner and drug lord Eddie Nash, which scored over a million dollars in cash, jewelry, drugs and guns. And squarely at the center of both the robbery and the murders was the duplicitous John Holmes (played here by Val Kilmer), a legendary porn star in the '70s. Wonderland explores what happened leading up to the carnage and Holmes's involvement in it.

This is a movie that shows a number of already known actors in a very different light. Not Kilmer, of course, who already mastered the drug addict in Oliver Stone's The Doors, but Wonderland may crank up the wattage on his fading career. It may, however, do more for people like Dylan McDermott, who is barely recognisable as thug David Lind; Kate Boswell (Blue Crush) who plays Holmes's flaky young girlfriend; Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama) as Ron Laurius, the psychopathic leader of the Wonderland gang; and it could finally break the streak of airhead blonde roles for Lisa Kudrow, who puts in a decidedly angst-y performance as Holmes's estranged wife Sharon.

There's little downtime in this film, hopping from one grizzly storyline to the next, reminiscent of Tarantino with the blood and guts synched to catchy '70s tunes. An artsy portrayal of a dark, twisted tragedy, this is a ponderous film with a pocketful of surprising performances. (Lions Gate)

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