Plot: Elise (Becca Hirani) is a married woman, but she feels alone and her husband shows little to no interest in her of late. He is focused on his work and given his odd hours at the office, Elise suspects he is unfaithful and decides to confront him. But before she can, she runs into Felix (Arron Blake) and he showers her with attention, which of course sparks her interest. Soon the two are engaged in a torrid affair, but Felix wants to help Elise explore her sexual desires beyond the usual bedroom fun, so he encourages her to take other lovers, while he watches. Soon her sexuality blossoms and she gets all the affection she can handle and then some, but she begins to feel guilt over her actions and is compelled to end things with Felix. But when he isn’t ready to let go, Elise finds herself pulled into a dark spiral of obsession.
Entertainment Value: An erotic thriller with obvious 80s/90s inspirations, Darker Shades of Elise takes a much bleaker approach than most in the genre, but I think it works and helps the film stand out from the crowd. The narrative isn’t that original, but it hits all the beats you want from this kind of movie and thanks to some fun twists, never feels stale in the least. I appreciated how the story transitions from Elise tapping into her sexual freedom in erotic ways to a darker, relentless thriller as time passes, as the film makes that move seem natural and fluid. As I said, the tone is darker than most and the final act is a bleak, unflinching trek through hellish encounters for Elise, so this is not a light, fluff erotica piece. But neither are films like Basic Instinct or Fatal Attraction, so there is a clear audience for darker thrillers and Darker Shades of Elise fits in that genre well. Becca Hirani has the lead and is competent, if a little awkward at times, but I think that makes sense for Elise, as she doesn’t seem too experienced when we first meet her. She is at her best when Elise has to confront the choices she has made and Hirani shows some solid depth in those moments. Arron Blake steals the show at times as nice, empowering guy turned psycho manipulator Felix, a role that had to be well performed for the movie to work. I had fun with Darker Shades of Elise and for genre fans, this is well recommended.
This is an erotic thriller after all, so there are sex scenes and by turn, a good amount of naked flesh on screen. An early scene has some full nudity from an actress, including full brief frontal, but most of the nakedness is topless related. The filmmakers were able to be sly about the sex scenes however, showing some skin, but using visual tricks to make it seem more much graphic than it is. I can’t explain this well beyond that, but I think most people will remember the sex scenes are more graphic than they are, due to those effective little tricks. But there’s a good deal of breasts on showcase and both male and female bare asses, so the movie isn’t shy about skin. There’s a little blood, but not much of it is graphic on screen violence. So yes, someone goes wild with a hammer and there’s some mild torture, but it is more implied than shown. Even so, it offers a nice punch for the finale. The dialogue is fun, made even more by some of the melodramatic efforts from the cast. Louisa Warren was fantastic and really made the most of her scenes, but some fun lines are spread out throughout the cast. Creepiness, mean girl talk, and erotic whisperings are all found here. As for craziness, the bleak tone, colorful characters, melodrama, and wild finale offer up some solid points.
Overall Insanity: 5/10