Picks and Pans Review: Fatal Charm
In this lurid erotic thriller—we can say that, can't we? this is cable—Amanda (A Year in the Life) Peterson plays a teenager who starts a correspondence with a spellbinding psychopath (Christopher Atkins) during his trial for serial rape and murder. Then Atkins escapes from jail and comes looking for his little pen pal.
Peterson does a fine job realizing a rather hysterical role. But this movie is primarily interesting for a supporting cast full of familiar faces, including Mary (Newhart) Frann, Lar Park (Knots Landing) Lincoln and Peggy (Twin Peaks) Lipton.
Atkins has a harder time as the heavy. Part of the problem for the onetime teen idol is an inconsistently written character—one minute he's the biggest monster on the planet, the next, he's a wuss too frightened to leave his cell during a jailbreak; part of Atkins's trouble is the daunting fact that the cast also contains two guys who were notorious cinema sickos: Andrew Robinson from Dirty Harry and James Remar from 48 HRS. Though Robinson and Remar are more or less playing good guys here, their mere presence sheds spooky shadows over the movie.
The idea of a naive teen romanticizing a dangerous criminal is a promising germ for a thriller, but this one is much more successful at being salacious than scary.