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‘Whispers in the Dark’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 07, 1992

"Whispers in the Dark," the new thriller starring Annabella Sciorra and Alan Alda, has a sexy but tawdry hook. At its center is another movie shrink, a pretty but unadventurous young New Yorker named Ann (Sciorra), who gets caught up in the riptide of jealousy and murder when her patient, another movie psycho femme (played by Deborah Unger), starts using her therapy sessions to showcase her innermost erotic secrets.

The patient, whose name is Eve, has been having a long, kinky affair with a man (Jamey Sheridan) she meets every Wednesday at Tavern on the Green. And during each session, she gives a detailed account of their lovemaking, which has grown more violent -- to the point that her lover stands her on a chair with a noose around her neck -- and more disturbing with every week.

The hook is that Ann is turned on by Eve's stories, so much so, in fact, that it becomes an obsession. Every night her dream life is completely taken over by them. Finally, after Eve comes in and proceeds to strip down in front of her, she becomes so entranced that she goes to the restaurant where they meet just to see what he looks like.

And that's where the trouble really starts. For the character, that is.

For the movie the trouble starts long before that. What follows can't be described without spoiling the only thing the movie has going for it: its lethal, suspenseful punch. By the time it's delivered, though, you'll probably be laughing too hard to be scared. Directed by Christopher Crowe, the movie is nothing more than an attempt to climb on board the "Basic Instinct"/"Hand That Rocks the Cradle" bandwagon. (We could add "Final Analysis" to the list, but there wasn't much of a bandwagon for that one.) In other words, it's a cheap imitation of a cheap imitation. It does provide one sublime pleasure, though: It does to one of the actors -- who, to save the secret, shall remain nameless -- what moviegoers around the world have wanted to do to him for years. If that doesn't get a laugh out of you, nothing will.

"Whispers in the Dark" is rated R for sexuality and violence.

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