'Groupie' Movie Review

by Shannon Hilson

In Groupie, we have one of the more recent efforts from director Mark L. Lester. If his name rings a bell with film buffs out there, it’s because he is also responsible for such classics as Stephen King’s Firestarter and Commando. However, I would suggest not popping Groupie into your DVD player expecting another future classic along those lines. Although this film does contain Lester touches that reminded me of certain elements in those films, thus bringing back a pleasant bit of my childhood for me, this is nevertheless… not quite the same.

Groupie tells us the story of a rock band called The Dark Knights that may or may not be cursed thanks to a horrible tragedy that we as viewers are witnesses to at the very start of the film. You see, The Dark Knights are apparently just as well known for their over-the-top stage stunts as they are for their music.

Performing to a screaming crowd of fans at a small bar-type venue, we see the most famous of these stunts go horribly awry. Lead singer Travis (Hal Ozsan) concludes the band’s signature song by lighting his jacket on fire to cheers of excitement. However, his jacket winds up engulfing a set of drapes in flames which quickly spread through the small club. Panic ensues and a young boy even winds up dying as he’s trampled by the crowd.

Cut to a year later. The Dark Knights have taken a year off in order to bounce back from the tragedy, although they were ultimately not held responsible for what happened, and are in the middle of a comeback tour. Enter Riley (Taryn Manning) -- a beautiful, young sculptor and groupie who asks to be allowed to ride along with them on the bus for a while. The band agrees. However, there is just something about Riley that sets her apart, even though no one seems to be able to put their finger on exactly what it is – not the jealous head groupie, Nikki (Betsy Rue), the band’s manager (Eric Roberts), or the band members themselves. Eventually, the misfortunes and mysterious deaths start as you knew they eventually would… but is Riley to blame or are The Dark Knights really cursed after all?

Overall, I would say that Groupie really had a “cheesy TV movie” vibe about it. There was really not… well… any blood or gore despite the string of deaths, so don’t seek this out looking for shocking kill scenes or anything. It’s really not scary or unsettling in any way. The score sounded like something a beginning film student might set a YouTube video to. Plus, there were also a few rather sloppy continuity issues that I pulled a bit of a side-eye at.

However, the plotline was actually pretty solid and most of the actors were quite good (particularly Taryn Manning and Eric Roberts), even if the dialogue they were spouting at times was a little hokey. Despite its shortcomings, Groupie succeeded in keeping me interested in the progression of events and wanting to know how this chain of events would all turn out. As I said, it’s like your typical TV movie of the week. You’re chuckling at the cheese factor the whole time. You’re probably going to forget you ever heard of the film a week later. However, at the time, you were certainly entertained enough to keep watching from beginning to end nevertheless.

Where I think that Groupie misses the boat a bit is in the way the team behind this really threw away an opportunity to give this some true impact. We’re following a rock band… on tour. We’re on a bus with drugs, booze, music, and groupies. There is a very entertaining level of excess that could have been achieved here, yet wasn’t even reached for. I also feel that with a lot more suspense, a little more blood, and a little less predictability, this could have actually been scary and not merely entertaining. However, it just sort of never gets there. On the whole, I’m left feeling like someone just wasn’t trying and that’s really too bad.

Although this was far from the worst film I’ve ever seen, it’s still pretty forgettable. If you run out and buy the DVD, you’re bound to be disappointed, because this isn’t the sort of thing you watch more than once or care that much about once you’ve watched it. However, if you’re flipping channels some night, need a way to kill a couple of hours while you have a TV dinner and a couple of beers, and happen to notice that Groupie is on, you’ll probably find that it suits you just fine.

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