The disappointing B.O. returns that have greeted recent rave-culture pics are unlikely to be reversed by “Rave,” a late entry that’s easily the worst of the lot. No more imaginative than its title, indie feature exploits a rave as colorful background for retrograde troubled-youth dramatics that pile on one alarmist cliche — drug O.D., drive-by shooting, Parents Who Don’t Love Enough, etc. — after another to absolutely no credible effect. Once its near-hysterical melodrama has ripened into camp, this may become a fleeting subgenre’s “Raver Madness.” For now, however, it’s direct-to-tape/cable fare.
Opening scenes portend trite histrionics to come, as principal characters are introduced in rote fashion. Each comes flagged by a personal problem that covers the cautionary-tale bases as glibly as their backgrounds do the race/class spectrum. (Curiously missing, however, are any significant black characters.)
They’re all gearing up for the big party tonight, a public rave in downtown L.A.
“Daffy” (Douglas Spain) is the Good Kid from a Good Home, with devoted working-class Mexican-American parents, trustworthy friends, and an adoring girlfriend (Tamara Mello). However, last has yet to tell him that she’s pregnant.
Hailing from similar ethnic turf but much worse circumstances is scary JP (Franco Vega), skinheaded teenage land mine accompanied by more easygoing bud Lazy (Shaun Weiss).
Way up the economic ladder, poor little rich girls Sadie (Nicholle Tom), Tracy (Tricia Dickson) and Mary (Aimee Graham) have their own needs for escapism. Most troubled case is sexually confused Mary. On their way to the party, this Caucasian airhead trio picks up cross-dressed pal Brian, aka “Amanda” (Scott Torrence), a stereotypically shrill bitchy-queen-in-training.
Sole loner here, Jay (Dante Basco), arrives in defiance of his overly strict Korean shop-owner dad. Shy and nervous, he impulsively buys a dose of animal tranquilizer Special K from dealer Sky (Chris Weber).
Once all arrive at the rave, Bad Things start happening.
Young cast is OK, but script’s simplistic character delineation, trite dialogue and overloaded, road-to-ruin developments are at once humorless and borderline laughable.
There’s no prize for guessing who will emerge the most innocent victim, the most successfully self-destructive, or most likely to spend adulthood behind bars. These twists are all telegraphed well in advance, then accompanied by buckets of teary pathos.
Considering the visual/sonic appeal inherent in a rave, pic gets little mileage from either routine color lensing or a soundtrack-full of mediocre house music.
Likewise adding clutter but zero inspiration are recurrent bits in which protags reveal their immature, banal (both intentionally and un-) worldviews in videocam interviews.
Most real-life teens, not to mention ravers, will find “Rave” absurdly condescending and exploitative.