By Chaz Lipp
Writer-director Austin Chick’s Girls Against Boys, now available on Blu-ray, has a cover shot of a girl from the waist down wearing a blood-splattered skirt. She has a sword in one hand, a gun in the other. The tagline is “Bad girls don’t cry. They get even.” That begs the question, if they’re the bad ones, what does that make the folks they’re getting even with? In this revenge film, Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) and Shae (Danielle Panabaker) may, in fact, be pretty bad. But they consider all men to be much worse. Well, at least Lu does.
From the outset, student/bartender Shae is playing dangerous games. She’s been dating a married man, Terry (Andrew Howard). He breaks it off, explaining that he and his wife are patching things up for the sake of their daughter. While Shae didn’t know he even had a child, she can’t seem to just let him go. While wallowing in heartbreak, she meets a seeming kindred spirit in Lu, an enigmatic but sympathetic redhead. Together they meet a few guys and go to their place for a few beers. Before too long, one of them, Simon (Michael Stahl-David) assaults Shae after he realizes she isn’t going to put out.
This plants the seeds for what soon becomes a murder spree for Lu and Shae as they strike down any man they feel has ever done them wrong. The problem is Lu believes men are all guilty of something. When Shae goes to the police station to report Simon’s assault, Lu accompanies her and flirts openly with a police officer. When he responds to her advances, he winds up dead and Lu now has his gun. It’s a turning point for the movie and also when things really get uncomfortable. Sure, the cop should’ve remained professional rather than going to a motel room with Lu. But is he really guilty of anything?
Girls Against Boys works best when Panabaker and LaLiberte just play off each other, with LaLiberte showing how Lu knows ways to push just the right buttons to get Shae to follow her. If anything, Panabaker makes Shae a little too intelligent to ever fully believe she would give in to such vigilante crimes. But she and LaLiberte are both good in underwritten roles. They both look great and are frequently scantily clad, though only LaLiberte does any actual nudity. Oops, now I’m going to have to watch out for Lu and her sword, since my admiration would be enough to get me killed if I were a character in the movie.
The digital cinematography by Kathryn Westergaard looks great in Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray transfer. Clarity is strong in what is another example of how today’s lower-budget, direct-to-video films usually look strikingly good in high definition. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix is less of a standout, but completely fine just the same. Nathan Larson’s atmospheric, ambient score is well-distributed throughout the surround spectrum. Despite the sudden violent outbursts, most of this movie is dialogue. Therefore the rear and LFE channels are never overly taxed.
There’s only one special feature to be found, a commentary track by writer-director Austin Chick and star Danielle Panabaker. The track has some interesting bits, particularly near the end as Chick and Panabaker offer two very different takes on the material. I won’t spoil anything by revealing the specifics, but I will say I found myself siding with Panabaker’s interpretation. The director had something else in mind, but I don’t think his desired effect was achieved. Girls Against Boys ends up dull and underdeveloped.