Below Utopia

Auds looking for new twists on the thriller genre are not likely to find bigscreen utopia in the all-too-predictable "Below Utopia," which toplines Alyssa Milano, from TV's "Melrose Place," and rapper-thesp Ice-T. This violent pic sports lots of cadavers and a bit of steamy action with Milano, but it is strictly a video-bin special.

With:
Daniel Simpson ..... Justin Theroux Suzanne ..... Alyssa Milano

When they arrive at his family’s sumptuous estate, Suzanne sees that her b.f. is the much-maligned black sheep of this well-to-do family, with everyone incessantly making glowing references to Daniel’s late brother, John. Golden boy John was poised to take over the father’s lucrative art-dealing business, and Dad is now pressuring Daniel to step up to the plate and run the family biz, threatening to cut all financial ties to his son if he doesn’t comply with his wishes.

Unhappy with the family tensions, Daniel and Suzanne retreat to the basement and, just as they start steaming it up once again, a trio of thugs barge in upstairs and brutally murder everyone in sight. The bad guys are there to make off with the family’s priceless art collection, and they load most of the canvases into a waiting van. Remainder of pic revolves around Daniel and Suzanne’s attempt to survive the carnage.

With the exception of a significant plot twist right at the end, “Below Utopia” unfolds in a manner utterly familiar to anyone who’s ever seen a straight-to-video shoot-’em-up, and helmer Kurt Voss showcases few imaginative touches.

Milano’s perf is most notable for her innovative use of skimpy outfits, while Ice-T looks curiously professorial with designer spectacles. Theroux has some fun as the increasingly unhinged son.

Tech credits are adequate, with much of pic lensed in fairly dark interiors.

Below Utopia

Production: :A Cinetel Films production. (International sales: Cinetel Films, Los Angeles.) Produced by Paul Hertzberg, Lisa Hansen. Executive producers, Steven Roffer, Alyssa Milano. Directed by Kurt Voss. Screenplay, David Diamond, from a story by Richard Shephard

Crew: Camera (color), Denis Maloney; editor, John Rosenberg; casting, Phaedra Harris. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 11, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Daniel Simpson ..... Justin Theroux Suzanne ..... Alyssa MilanoIce-T, Tiny Lister.

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