I haven’t seen the first Poison Ivy film starring Drew Barrymore although I’ve heard of it. I had no idea there were several smaller direct to video sequels and even though direct to video films are usually low quality, I decided to give Poison Ivy 2: Lily a try because I’m an Alyssa Milano fan. I really love her in real life, we agree on just about everything and she’s outspoken just like me. I’ve also enjoyed her as an actress from Charmed and a couple films. Milano is really good in the lead role here… if only the material was as good as her performance.
Milano is good here, she comes off as very lovable even when she starts to change herself. She has range, she starts out as a fairly innocent college girl who’s getting used to the LA scene having just moved there from the Midwest. She starts to morph into a different type of person after finding a diary and materials who used to belong to a girl named Ivy. What I like about Milano’s character and the arc is that I never once got the sense she was malicious in her actions. She was just a little misguided at times. I really didn’t expect that, I thought her character would be the antagonist of this erotic thriller. Johnathon Schaech plays her roommate and main love interest, Gredin. I’ve seen him in other films, That Thing You Do being the most notable. He’s on my “celebrity list” which is – something I believe everyone has, even though some might not admit to – a list of celebrity crushes. He’s undeniably attractive, especially in this film, they really play up his rugged sex appeal.
But there’s more to him than just his looks. Much like Milano, who was also a sex symbol, he’s a gifted actor and gives a good performance here. The two of them have great chemistry. Their sex scenes feel very sensual and romantic too and aren’t overtly raunchy or dirty. One thing I really love is a well filmed sex scene, when a filmmaker is able to light things just right and create a dream like essence to it, firing up the chemistry and helping build the romance. It’s so important in any film that involves a romance to make the audience buy into their connection and feel it and I think that’s accomplished here. Xander Berkeley plays Donald Faulk, an art professor of Lily and Gredin’s who takes a strong liking to Lily. Lily begins posing for him and an intense infatuation begins. This is where the thriller aspect comes from. Berkeley does give a suitable performance, it’s not his fault the plot doesn’t work. The fault lies with the underlying material being weak and underwritten.
I would’ve preferred to see a purely romantic film about Milano and Schaech instead of the half baked thriller this ends up being. There isn’t much to put the audience on edge until the very end and even then everything just comes off as lazy. The plot does have a very direct to video feel which is disappointing. I’m a big fan of erotic thrillers. I think if done right they can be very effective. Take a film like Basic Instinct. Now, that’s a great example of how to do that right. The main problem here is that they try to play two types of films in one. You’ve got the sweet/hot young romance between Milano and Schaech then the weak “fatal attraction” type thing going on with the professor. The consequence of that is that neither plot gets developed so by the end you feel underwhelmed and under satisfied.
Poison Ivy 2: Lily suffers from poor writing and tries to be two films at once. Unfortunately the result is a film with lovely leads and good acting, BUT a very confused, underwhelming plot. This should’ve been a purely romantic film between Milano and Schaech.