‘Private Property’ Review: Ashley Benson’s Looks Can’t Save This Boring Thriller
The Thriller more than any other genre in cinema can travel between the spaces of being trashy and elegant in a matter of seconds. Entire studios are dedicated, for example, to make trashy thrillers for television and streaming services. They use tiresome formulas, decaying actors, and monotone sets, to tell stories about deceive, betrayal, money, sex, and drugs. This type of movie plagues the ancillary market, at almost every corner.
The elegant thrillers, those that can be taken seriously, are few and far between. Like anything that is really good, they are examples of what happens when things get made with effort, love, time and enough resources. David Fincher, made a whole career out of constructing powerful thrillers that could ignite people’s minds with possibilities and ideas. We could even say that Gone Girl, one of his last movies for cinemas, was in fact the last great thriller.
Because we don’t have many David Finchers or Gone Girls going around, the genre is mostly being occupied by the trashy sort of thrillers. Private Property falls exactly in this latter category by mixing all the possible clichés into a story that is equal parts boring, and predictable. There are so much better movies out there that it would be a waste of time to spend ninety minutes on this one.
Private Property is directed by Chadd Hardbold and stars Ashley Benson, Shiloh Fernandez, and Logan Miller. The film tells the story of Kathryn, a sad housewife and struggling actress, who starts a relationship with Ben, her new gardener. The relationship becomes more and more intense, but it is made clear that Ben is not what it seems, and his secrets might threaten the lives of others.
Private Property is a remake of a very controversial film of the same name that released in the 1960s, directed by Leslie Stevens. The original film was pulled from circulations, and it was considered basically lost until 2016. Maybe in order to capitalize such a discovery, the producers of this new version of Private Property decided to make it, resulting in a film that is very familiar to the original, up to a fault.
Because it is such a faithful recreation of the original film, some aspects of the story feel very much trapped in the time when they were originated. The movie makes an exploration on how the lives of the rich are often empty of meaning as their status basically makes them avoid any sort of challenge in life, and without challenge there is no learning. It is a strong point and the movie is successful in making it.
However, when it comes the time to confront the subject of classes, the movie seems to be trapped in the old ways. The character of Ben, in clearly an immigrant, someone that have to leave their original country looking for something better, and he is now in American, working as gardener for people who don’t appreciate the work. It is only the fact that Ben is poor and foreign, the reason Kathryn feels attracted to him. His reflection on her makes her feel powerful and adventurous.
But later, when the face of reality is revealed, it makes sense for the movie that Ben, the immigrant is the enemy that needs to be erased so the times of order and good old American values can come back. The poor people are only valuable during the time that the rich people say they are, after that, they need to be taken out. It is a very old-fashioned view of the world, there is nothing wrong with that but the film really does make it seem as if it is the right thing.
Ashley Benson is quite a beautiful actress, but her presence on screen is basically zero. It does fit with her character, though, a struggling actress that cannot even get into auditions. To be the protagonist of a movie such like this, it would have been great to see someone with a bit more expression and intensity.
Shiloh Fernandez comes off as the best actor in the film. The role of Ben is a dangerous one, as it strolls the way between a stereotype and a parody. In fact, maybe the original Private Property was the one that inspired so many adult movies where the gardeners or the pool guy end up seducing the young, innocent housewife. Some things should better be left alone.
The movie’s cliché plot and slow pacing might become a test of patience for more than one member of the audience. However, if there is something that really standout from the movie is the score by Com Truise. The score basically kicks ass, and it is a fine piece of music to even listen outside of the movie experience. Let’s hope Truise can find more film work in the future.
Private Property is too old-fashioned for its own good, and in the current environment it feels outdated. Maybe a revision of the content and the form of the movie would have made it a better film, as the themes it explores are quite interesting. You will not feel offended or anything by watching Private Property, but you might feel a bit bored.