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All things old are new again as the movies steadily look to the past to turn out their future, this time with Inconceivable, a throwback to 90s direct-to-video and late night cable chillers about a maniac woman who goes off the deep end when she’s not given what she wants.
It follows extremely wealthy doctor Brian Morgan (Nicolas Cage) and his doctor wife Angela (Gina Gershon) who seem to have the perfect life, living in a mansion the size of Delaware with their five-year-old daughter Cora (Harlow Bottarini), who is the product of a donor after the couple suffered a series of miscarriages. Angela meets Katie (Nicky Whelan) through a mutual friend, she a mother of a little girl as well and soon enough, she moves into the guest house, or rather one of the guests houses as Brian’s gruff mother Donna (Faye Dunaway) lives in the other, who comes to suspect all is not right with the newbie in the family. Of course she’s dead on, and when Brian and Angela decide to have another child, they go with a surrogate, which upsets Katie, who reveals a deeper secret that has some serious consequences.
Directed by Jonathan Baker (who has a small role as well), Inconceivable is exactly what it looks like, no more no less, a cheap thriller that plays by the rules and leaves nearly nothing left to chance. We learn from the opening a key facet of Katie’s past, one that strips away much of the tension, even though we know all too well that Katie can’t be any good. Baker refuses to keep any secrets though, flipping over stones all in order right from the start, making sure we know precisely what is happening, concentrating on the rungs in the ladder rather than the spaces in-between. This means that Katie must ingratiate herself quickly, that the Morgans need another child, and the trust between them is broken as fast as possible.
The script, by Chloe King, who is the daughter of infamous skin flick purveyor Zalman King, follows in the same vein, filled with beautiful female bodies in various states of undress talking in exposition throughout. Nothing feels authentic about it, with most of the egregious stuff glossed over in favor of chats about them rather than spending time with them. This is a talky movie with most of it on Katie, and while Whelan is dutifully slippery, she’s not nearly as scary as the genre demands. Gershon does the best she can with the obligatory ignorance the character is required to have while Cage sleepwalks right through it, his role mostly a series of cameo walk-ins where he says one or two words. We learn nothing about him, what kind of doctor he is or even why he’s in the story. To have an actor like Cage in a film like this and leave him corked for the duration is arguably the biggest flaw in the movie. It’s well, I hate to say, inconceivable.
Inconceivable is a corny thriller of course, a perfuctory by-the-numbers movie that will appeal to fans of the genre perhaps, though that’s unlikely. A tiresome and underwhelming production that treats its audience with little respect, this is a pass.
Movie description: Inconceivable is a 2017 thriller about a mother who looks to escape her abusive past by moving to a new town where she befriends another mother, who grows suspicious of her.
Director(s): Jonathan Baker
Actor(s): Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon, Nicky Whelan
Genre: Drama, Thriller