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MOVIE REVIEW

Donkey Punch

Fun in the sun for rich kids turns into terror afloat

Nichola Burley plays one of a threesome of girls invited to a yacht by three guys. Nichola Burley plays one of a threesome of girls invited to a yacht by three guys. (Photos by Magpictures.com)
By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / January 30, 2009
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What if "Gossip Girl" suddenly turned into one of those last-hottie-standing slasher films? It might go something like "Donkey Punch," a thriller whose title remains printable only because the right people probably don't know that it refers to a violent sex act. The opening scenes amount to a magazine shoot. The soundtrack throbs with hooky electronica, while Oliver Blackburn, who wrote the film with David Bloom, delivers shots of shaking rumps, tan skin, and the Mediterranean, all shimmering in Mallorcan sunlight.

For personnel, there are those ladies - here they're a trio - you always see at some nightclubs (tan girls who use pushed-back sunglasses as a headband and go "Wooo!" a lot). The threesome meet three dudes who invite them back to their yacht. They're all Brits (the girls are from grey old Leeds). Aboard the boat, a fourth boy, Sean (Robert Boulter), appears. So do a few drugs.

Soon they've hopped off the boat and into the sea, where a discussion of unsanitary sex moves ensues. "What's in it for the girl?" asks Lisa (Sian Breckin). "Don't understand the question," replies Bluey (Tom Burke). Dropping the subject, Lisa just says, "I am hard-core," puts her lips to a glass pipe, and takes the first hit of something that induces yacht-wide horniness: naughty stuff in the master bedroom; talk of feelings and heartache between Sean and Tammi (Nichola Burley) up on the deck.

These are dynamics that promise more interesting developments than what Blackburn's overly scripted yet undercooked film actually delivers. Anyone looking for a stoned and bikinied update of "L'Avventura," "Purple Noon," "Dead Calm," or other boat-bound chillers will have to settle for "The Real World: Death Yacht." The naughtiness turns nasty, the nastiness turns fatal, and the kids gradually turn against each other. Blackburn doesn't foster an air of dread so much as he puts on the airs of several Danny Boyle films, from "Shallow Grave" to "The Beach." And the alive-to-dead pecking order is strictly a horror film convention: The soberer and more virginal you are the better your chances.

Nonetheless, it's neat watching a well-off preppy discover he has a psychotic side or seeing a middle-class party animal find out she has one, too, even if such revelations are never convincing in a way that maintains suspense or manages to shock. It just affords whoever on the film's crew is in charge of splattering blood a chance to frequently do his or her job.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

DONKEY PUNCH Directed by: Oliver Blackburn

Written by: Blackburn and David Bloom

Starring: Nichola Burley, Robert Boulter, Sian Breckin, Jay Taylor, Julian Morris, Tom Burke, and Jaime Winstone

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 100 minutes

Rated: R (a scene of strong sexual content involving an aberrant violent act, graphic nudity, violence, language, and drug use)

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