Sorry, but we’ve got a dud here.
Though director Barbara Kopple made her name as a documentarian, the fictional Havoc is artificial throughout. It opens with a monologue by the lead actress that is painfully affected and theatrical, setting the tone for the whole movie.
Havoc is the story of spoiled rich high school kids in Palisades Park, California.
I know people are stupid, and behave ludicrously and everything, and normally I expect the worst, but are there really people this stupid and this ludicrous? This is either realistic, and really scary for that reason, or it’s scarily bad filmmaking.
These kids are part of some sort of “wigger” clique, where they all walk and talk like stereotypical black gang bangers. I mean, I’ve heard of that subculture, but are there people this fully “in character” all the time? I understand putting on an act for limited purposes in limited circumstances, and I understand behaving according to some extreme stereotypes opposite your own culture as a form of satire or something very self-conscious like that, but do they really have no grasp of how ridiculous they are, no realization that they’re saying things that only make sense in relation to a culture and social environment that isn’t their life?
As far as stupid, try this on for size: Group of these kids driving very expensive car and carrying valuables drives to worst part of town to buy drugs. Hot shot driver buys drugs from street vendor, decides the bag feels light, and gets out of the car to accost vendor and get his money back. [Stupid bells should be going off by now.] He is, predictably, robbed and humiliated at gun point. His girlfriend decides the Latino gang banger drug dealer who pulled the gun on her boyfriend is hot, so the next night she returns to the spot and seeks him out. She blatantly flirts with him, and commences a relationship of sorts with him. She returns multiple times after this, sometimes with an equally hot, scantily clad girlfriend, always moving freely and confidently amidst large numbers of imposing Latino gang bangers at parties, on dark streets, in motel rooms, etc. [Stupid bells have probably ceased functioning due to overuse by now.] She and her friend have a grand time flirting and drinking and doing drugs with these guys.
You know, I wonder if just maybe there’s some sort of risk here that they’re not seeing?
Like I say, I don’t know if this goes on or not. Maybe there are rich sixteen year old girls who get decked out in clubwear and expensive jewelry and such, and happily wander around in the worst slums that cops are probably scared to venture into after dark. Maybe people really are even stupider than I previously thought.
There’s some melodramatic action and suspense to keep things at least a little interesting, and the girls are gorgeous to look at of course (by the way, I’ll walk through the East LA neighborhood featured in this film at midnight if either of the two lead actresses were even close to high school age when they made this movie), but Havoc on the whole is quite silly.