by Dan Angell
When you find a movie for $3.99 on the discount rack, and it describes itself on the cover as, “The sexiest thriller of the year,” AND it was a straight to DVD release AND it is the sequel to a movie you’ve never heard of…you know you’ve found something special.
Yes, THE SKULLS II is just that movie. And if by “sexiest thriller” they mean some no name director crammed as many pale, elbowy loves scenes into a movie as possible, along with young actors who could only appeal to horny teenagers, and pushed the story along overtop of a terrible sound track of mid-90’s douchbag pop (yeah, douchbag pop is a registered trademark of mine), then you have this movie. They even threw in just enough female nudity to score themselves an R rating, making the movie cool and edgy.
Before I continue I feel I should mention that the main character, Ryan Sommers, is played by Robin Dunne. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Yes, Robin Dunne also starred in CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 (also reviewed on this site), the underwhelming sequel to the movie that made Sarah Michelle Gellar a sex symbol (for about 30 seconds, until we went back to watching Buffy and remembered how terribly uninteresting and repetitive she is).
The story, which revolves around Ryan Sommers, is your basic “yuppie witnesses a murder and the supplementary investigation of the murder by said yuppie ruins his standings, personal relationships, and life in general” tale. After witnessing a member of the Skull and Bones society commit murder during his initiation, Ryan is forced to make a decision: Does he go to the police and tell them what he thought he saw, or try to solve it himself. Naturally he decides on the latter.
After Ryan is told by the leader of the society, Parker Neal, that it was a staged murder, part of his initiation, he pretty much lets it go. But that would make for a boring movie, so Parker naturally takes it a little too far. He also convinces Ryan’s girlfriend, Ali, to claim Ryan hit her and start dating the guy who Ryan saw commit the murder. Parker also bribes Ryan with a really awesome motorcycle (best part of the movie).
After doing a little digging, Ryan finds another murder committed by the Skulls. But the Skulls have been spying on him (with what we find to be an endless network of informants) and not only have a person trailing him at all times (in the same really obvious black Ford Expedition which Ryan never seems to notice until it’s too late) and have his house bugged.
Ryan turns to his ex-girlfriend's roommate, Kelly, and his brother, Greg, for support. Greg provides him with information about the murdered girls staged car accident, and Kelly provides him with cute, blonde companionship during his hard (or mind-numbingly stupid) ordeal.
Fortunately, the three of them formulate a plan. They go to visit the coroner’s office, where they find out that the coroner, the womanizing Dr. Sprague, was bribed by the Skulls to falsify the time of death to coincide with the car accident, instead of 4 days before. They steal the real report (because when committing a federal offence, it’s always a good idea to keep a piece of incriminating evidence in your file cabinet. Never mind the fact that it wouldn’t be missed if you just happened to light it on fire and there would be nothing left to link you to the crime you committed and you could avoid that whole jail thing. I’m sorry I’m ranting I just want to make sure that everyone who reads this understands the full scope of just how idiotic this plot point is) and they take it to the police, who promptly arrest both Neal (because he’s a jackass) and the coroner (because he’s a moron).
Neal is released on bail, and is taken back to the Skulls clubhouse where he is held down and branded (brutal, yes) which symbolizes his removal from the society. Ryan also leaves the club and moves in with Kelly. Ali, who hasn’t spoken to Ryan for weeks, shows up and, through tears, explains the finer points of the situation which the movie skipped over. Cue the douchbag pop again, and the credits roll.
Despite what I’ve said up until this point, the main problem with THE SKULLS II isn’t the bad acting, or the bad music, or the bad catch phrase (though it has all of those). The main problem is that the movie is made to appeal to a certain audience, and it isn’t shy about making that known. It is a loose story line with gaping holes wrapped around the central idea of getting the audience who will watch a movie because the main actors are young and hot. Now I will admit, Ashley Cafagna-Tesoro is very pretty, but so is Jessica Alba, and SIN CITY is a much better movie than THE SKULLS II.