“Stag” is an efficient psychological thriller about a stag bash gone terribly wrong. With the help of a couple of strong perfs, director Gavin Wilding manages to keep the tension bubbling along at a good pace throughout. This tale of what happens when a group of drunken guys accidentally kill a stripper becomes a tad predictable along the way, however, and it is likely to do better on the small screen than in theaters in most territories. Pic will screen on HBO in June. Then Montreal-based producer-distributor CFP plans theatrical play for “Stag” in the fall across North America.
Story kicks off with Victor Mallick (John Stockwell) and his buddy and business partner Michael (Mario Van Peebles) arriving at a suburban house. Michael has thrown together a surprise pre-wedding stag party for Victor, and the crowd on hand includes Victor’s new, fairly well-to-do colleagues and a number of older friends, who are a more motley lot. His old pals include Dan (Kevin Dillon), a somewhat disturbed Gulf War veteran, and Peter (Andrew McCarthy), a seedy character who deals drugs for a living.
The party moves into overdrive when a couple of strippers arrive disguised as cops and, soon enough, most of the inebriated revelers are feeling pretty hot and bothered. But the erotic charge wilts quickly when several of the guys start tossing one of the strippers up in the air and end up dropping her head-first on the floor. When the strippers’ male escort sees that she’s not breathing, he pulls a gun and, during an ensuing scuffle, the guy from the stripper service is shot dead.
A couple of the guys suggest calling the cops, but others, most notably drug merchant Peter, strenuously argue that bringing in the police will only ensure that everyone present will end up doing some serious time in the crowbar motel. They then tie up the remaining stripper, Serena (Taylor Dayne), while they try to figure out how to deal with the mess they’ve created.
This leads to no small amount of conflict between the two very different camps of Victor’s friends and his colleagues, and the friction keeps getting worse as the night wears on. Peter, the nastiest of the bunch, pushes for a violent end to the quandary. Soon enough, they have all turned on one another and are no nearer to a feasible plan to keep the cops out of the picture.
It’s standard-issue dramatic material, but Wilding knows which buttons to push to keep viewers interested, and there is rarely a dull moment. McCarthy delivers a memorable turn as the slimebag drug dealer, and Dillon is also strong as the testy, unhinged Gulf War vet.
All of the lensing is within tight interiors, and the punchy soundtrack is packed with upbeat rock numbers belted out by everyone from Tom Jones to Golden Earring.