Picks and Pans Review: After Dark, My Sweet

updated 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jason Patric, Rachel Ward

Like the best '40s B movies, this story of an inept kidnapping attempt in a small California town sinks its teeth right into the plot and hangs on, come hell or high weirdness.

Taken from a 1955 Jim Thompson novel, it's essentially a four-character play. Patric (The Lost Boys), an escaped mental patient, walks into town and hooks up with Ward and Bruce Dern (as a typically, for him, bizarro loser). Their plan to kidnap the little son of a local family is complicated by a doctor. George (Blue Velvet) Dickerson, whose eerie interest in Patric is never quite defined.

The dialogue runs to "You're very fast with your mitts" and "Ever notice how sometimes things that aren't true are more true than the truth?" It all seems to fit. though, and there are strong performances by Patric, who has the John Garfield quirks for the part, and Ward, who did almost the same role in Against All Odds. There's brief if heated sex and violence.

The script was written by co-producer Robert Redlin, a newcomer, and director James Foley. Foley hereby earns forgiveness for having foisted Who's That Girl upon us in 1987. (R)

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