If having the camera make love to you is the key to becoming the next Marilyn Monroe, then someone ought to arrest the camera used in Scissors for the rape of a minor. Minor talent! As has been discussed ad nauseam, Sharon Stone does have mesmerizing screen presence. But so does a hypnotist who’s trying to help you stop wetting the bed.
Having the camera kiss and fondle and lick your butt for viewers’ eyeballs is only the half the battle - any acting legend will tell you that! Screen presence is the you’ve-got-their-attention half. You have to fill-in the other half with shrewd acting skill, it’s a precarious balancing act that few can do, but the combination is the whole pie! The really great screen actors are able to do both; quite literally have their cake and eat it too, as it were. Unfortunately in Frank De Felitta’s 1991 film Scissors, Sharon Stone gobbles in vain. For Stone, Scissors was the next to the last cinematic log jam in a long river of movie doo doo that she drifted down until she finally washed it all off by snatching the public’s attention with an inarguably dazzling performance in Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 thriller Basic Instinct.
And Scissors is a psychological thriller that would get an inarguable diagnosis from a psychoanalyst: narcolepsy! Watching the picture is like gazing into a kaleidoscope of regret. Stone explores, discovers and exploits whole new ways of “bad” acting - you might say she’s a “bad acting” entrepreneur! And you know what? YOU’RE FIRED! She slogs through this cruel cinematic diorama without the rubber boots of thespian panache that other sensible actors would wear.
Her character, the ingeniously named Angie Anderson, is a drop dead gorgeous spinster who lives in an indescript city and spends most of her time hidden in her Ikea-prison of an apartment, freaking out about neurotic things which seem triggered by mysterious events she suffered through as a child through a foggy, warbling lens filter.
What’s that Sharon? We can’t understand you’re saying in that Snuggles the Bear-voice! What are you cackling about as you’re wrapped up in a blanket in your bedroom all alone? You were raped by a bald man with a big red beard as a child? Oh wait, he didn’t rape you with the beard, he had a red beard. Got it. Oh, and now all bald men who have red beards cause you to say “Oh my GOD!” (see picture below) when you’re introduced to them at cocktail parties and run away from them all screaming nutzoid-shouty-crackers and then run down the hall into your apartment, rip off your Contempo Casuals party dress, and slam the door just to get away from them? We understand.
Now that you’re back in your apartment, what to do? What’s that? Your spare time hobby is making your own collection of baby dolls with innocent plastic faces!? While also listening to chiming music-box lullabies with reverb effects? Perfect. No hobby could be creepier! I don’t think your character could have had a more appropriately spine chilling hobby, except maybe making those little white ghosts out of twisted tissue paper bound at the neck with rubber bands and eyes drawn on with black felt marker! Oh how I hate those things! Brrrr!
Oh look - the camera is panning across your doll-making craft table… look, there’s a box of doll heads! There’s a pile of little plastic legs! And a little box filled with doll eyes! Ooh! And look, next to that - there is a pair of gleaming new scissors! Hey, why did you run out of the room screaming? Oh… right. Scissors.
After a lot of bizarre interaction with a weird guy in a wheelchair who lives next door, and his even scarier brother, Sharon stands for a really long time outside on her balcony in the moonlight, wrapped in a bedsheet while the wind blows her hair. Then she hides behind a plant. Then she talks out into the air with a doll voice. Then, in a scene that had me in tears, she has a whole conversation with a stuffed alligator toy.
With all that out of the way, the next logical step is for Stone’s character to be lured to a lavish penthouse apartment in an empty high rise building on the other side of town by a cryptic phone caller. She arrives in the loft apartment and finds that it looks like the set of an old Wham! video (but the mood is less delightful). She also finds no one there at all. She also finds that everything in the apartment is bolted to the floor (she’s the type whole likes to check these things right away), the phones all dial 976-EVIL, and she can’t seem to escape the place because the doorknobs turn into little white rubber balls that fall off and bounce across the floor when you try and touch them (it is a Wham! video)! But why? Why? We never find out.
Who’s doing all this to you Sharon? Ahhh… is it the bald, red bearded man from your past? Why it appears so! This is an analogy of revenge Sharon, and your rapist is a electrifying analogist! He’s more coldly calculating that an adding machine sitting atop the North Pole! Don’t try and figure it out Sharon because nobody can. Keep clawing the (badly marbleized) paint on the walls and making a face like you’re crying even though no tears seem to be coming out, keep bending your skinny pipe cleaner arms up to clasp your ears and scrunching your face like a prune to scream “No… no, no!” as you bounce your ample eyebrows against the glass windows mumbling “Why… why… why?” Yea… just do all that for… for like an hour, in real time.
But then, what’s that? Lights on the ceiling are moving, tables are automatically shifting, what’s that raising up out of the floor in the next room? The bald red-headed man in evil animatronic robot form with laser beam eyes? Is it the actual bald man with a red beard? No! It’s… it’s… an elaborate scale model of the whole city! Everyone’s worst nightmare - she’s been captured by the most sinister urban planner in the world! Through a recording of his voice which comes out of speakers in the ceiling, he tells Sharon to stare at his scale model of the city and listen to his recorded voice explaining everything about his ideas of how a city should work. That’s right, contemplate pedestrian flow until it drives you TOTALLY PSYCHO!
But wait, there’s another door in the back you hadn’t noticed… who’s that mysterious man in the bed in the next room with a knife in his back? A giant gold life-size Oscar statue with it’s wrists slashed? No… it’s the bald red-bearded man, impaled in the back with scissors… your scissors! Remember the scissors theme? Don’t go mad with over-exaggerated yelps again! That’s right - pass out! The portrayal of an unconscious human body is a role that even a common corpse can handle like a Shakespearian thespian! Don’t blow it! But don’t sleep too long either, because something is rolling into the apartment as you slumber, and it’s not the closing credits! When you wake up, your exagerated smile will shift into a horrific scowl like Munch’s “The Scream” painting in two seconds flat (good technique), as you realize our horrible viewing experience is not your dream after all! And what’s that rolled into the center of the room? A food tray? with a steaming pot of tea, and a silver-domed platter in the center? What’s under the silver dome cover Sharon? Answers? A putrid rat? No! It’s… BREAKFAST!
Are you feeling weary Sharon? Would you like to rest after all that slogging? Take a rest on this love seat made out of poor script writing and stuffed with bad casting - no, wait, don’t sit there! How about resting on this little window sill made of bad editing and poor dubbing - oh wait, no not there either! That’s right Sharon, there’s no rest for the wicked - you’re in movie Hell and we’re right there watching, laughing, cackling like demons in the eternal cinema inferno you’ve imprisoned us in. Perhaps we’re watching you, engulfed in flames, munching on brimstone and sulfur popcorn, and eating little pitchfork lollipops. Our soul? NO SALE!
Scissors is a highly entertaining klunker, with a hysterically berserk performance by Stone. I would recommend it to anyone (it’s available on DVD).