Runtime: 82 Minutes
Director: Daniel Farrands
Writer: Michael Arter
Stars: Mena Suvari, Taryn Manning, Nick Stahl, Agnes Bruckner, Drew Roy, Gene Freeman
By Bee Garner
“The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” claims to be based on the true event that shocked America, the horrorendous death of Nicole Brown, the ex-wife of sports star O.J. Simpson who discovered murdered along with friend Ron Goldman in 1994. This film promises to show you the last days of Nicole Brown and the truth about her mysterious death, but instead of being a thoughtful reflection of a woman trying to rebuild her life after suffering at the hands of her abusive husband; the actual film we are given is a melodramatic, cheap and nasty exploitation flick which leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
The film opens rather strongly, with a montage of real news footage from the era discussing O.J. Simpson and Nicole’s divorce, and the mysterious serial killer known as “The Cross Country Killer” or “The Casanova Killer” who went on a killing spree in 1994. We then cut to a blonde woman jogging at night, only to be followed a mysterious male. In typical ‘horror movie’ fashion the woman trips and falls to the ground, the man continues to slowly approach her, he pulls out a knife and we fade to black. If the film had continued to create this sense of dread, and had left more to the imagination of the viewer, then the film could have been stronger. Sadly, this is not the case and the film quickly descends into a poorly written soap opera featuring people in bad wigs, and lots of scenery chewing.
Mena Suvari plays Nicole Brown, who we first meet at her birthday party being held at Mezzaluna Trattoria, a restaurant where her friend and jogging partner Ron Goldman (Drew Roy) works at. The party guests include the likes of Kris Kardashian played by Agnes Bruckner who sports an ill-fitting wig, and Faye Resnick (Taryn Manning) who seems to be the only one who knows how ridiculous this film actually is. We quickly find out that O.J. (Gene Freeman) is continuing to torment Nicole, by following her and possibly breaking into her home. This is played out like a second rate ‘Halloween’ homage, that feels unoriginal and lazy.
“Directed by Daniel Farrands, “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is a film that feels rushed and hurriedly put together. In fact, this is his third film in the span of two years and it shows.”
When Nicole spots a man finishing up a decorating job at her neighbour’s house, she hires him. This man is drifter Glen Rogers (Nick Stahl), and Nicole finds herself attracted to him. However, has she invited more danger into her home without realising it?
Suvari certainly delivers a good performance with the material she is given. She presents us with a woman still suffering from PTSD, jumping at every little sound outside, paranoid for all the right reasons. At the start of the film, Nicole eeriely predicts her own death, stating that O.J. would be the one to blame. The supporting cast also deliver decent performances, with Freeman really capturing that charming, sociopathic side to O.J.’s personality.
The film’s cinematography by Ben Demaree includes some beautiful aerial shots of the L.A. landscape, and help to create the impression that Nicole is always being watched and stalked. Despite all this, the film looks cheap and aisde from the wardrobe and the odd pager here and there, it doesn’t look like a faithful recreation of the era. I understand that this was a low-budget production but it feels like there’s been a real lack of effort to immerse the viewer into this world. However, the main issue with the film is how swiftly in falls into campiness. The tone shifts dramatically from scene to scene in such a jarring way that it almost causes the viewer to suffer from a brain aneurysm.
Directed by Daniel Farrands, “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is a film that feels rushed and hurriedly put together. In fact, this is his third film in the span of two years and it shows. His previous work, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” was another controversial work that attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps in an attempt to outdo himself, Farrands tackles yet another true crime case, and one wonders what true crime he will exploit next?
“This film promises to show you the last days of Nicole Brown and the truth about her mysterious death…the actual film we are given is a melodramatic, cheap and nasty exploitation flick which leaves a sour taste in your mouth.”
In an interview, Farrands stated the following “I never set out to make a “true crime” film… I didn’t feel all that beholden to the moment-to-moment events that we all know to be true about the case”. He was discussing “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” but we can certainly see this reflected in “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson”. Farrands and writer Michael Arter have taken a lot of liberties with this film. Perhaps the biggest insult to the loved ones of Nicole and Ron is the fact that Farrands decides to show us the murders; and he goes all out to recreate it in graphic, bloody detail. There’s no easy way to say this, but it’s everything you can imagine it to be: grotesque, horrorific, very poorly edited and choreographed.
If you want the real story of what happened, I recommend you seek out the ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made in America” (2016) which is far superior. Farrands is certainly passionate about the horror genre, so maybe it’s time he creates an original story rather than just recyle the events of America’s most tragic victims.