A seductive teen befriends an introverted high school student and schemes her way into the lives of her wealthy family.
**_A luscious Lolita takes over the family..._** ...that's the basic plot of 1992's "Poison Ivy" starring Drew Barrymore in the titular role. The movie comes from a long tradition of films about an alluring babysitter (or nanny or friend) taking control of the family by winning the hearts of the kids and seducing the husband. "The Babysitter" (1980) and "Summer Girl" (1983) are two examples, both TV flicks (available on youtube). In "Poison Ivy" Drew, as Ivy, plays a friend of the awkward misfit Sylvie (Sara Gilbert). Tom Skerritt plays the aloof husband and Cheryl Ladd the withering (but still beautiful) mother. "Poison Ivy" is more stylized than the aforementioned examples and technically better due to a much bigger budget. One of its best highlights is its score, which is equal parts haunting, romantic, melancholic and beautiful. Speaking of melancholic, there's an element of sadness to the proceedings because the family is so wealthy -- living on a mansion on a hill in Los Angeles (shot on location) -- but they're so spiritually bereft. It just goes to show that all the financial success and material possessions in the world can't buy happiness and love. Drew was almost 17 during filming and plays the sultry little tamale well, which brings up why people tend to look down on the film -- it's nothing more than a lethal Lolita tale with a slick garnishment and they write it off as trash exploitation. Regardless, it works for what it is; and, after all, does every film have to be "Ghandi"? Besides, "Poison Ivy" and similar films are more than just "trash exploitation." They're commentaries on the power of a woman or, more specifically, the power of a young beautiful female. In the story, Ivy comes from a troubled past but, as a blossoming woman, she realizes the power she wields and seems to bask in it. I was involved with a church for a number of years and the granddaughter of the pastor was aged 17-22 at the time. She wasn't in Drew's league, as far as beauty goes yet she still had power. She would lie about people and spread rumors and, because she was the pastor's granddaughter, some morons would believe her. She started dating a naive relative of mine, who was 19 years her senior, and it was clear that she was just interested in his money. At some point she was able to get his credit card info and bought over $17,000 worth of merchandise without him knowing it until it was too late. She did everything in her power to move into his house, but his aging mother blocked the last attempt at the last minute. His mom said that she could just see the vixen pushing her down the stairs or whatever to get her out of the picture. It was even discovered that the lil' tart tried to buy life insurance on the guy, which was very odd. You can draw your own conclusions. My point is that these lethal Lolitas exist -- young vixens who use their beauty to take control, cause havoc and ruin lives. Trash exploitation or not, it's good fodder for a movie, particularly if it's done stylishly, like "Poison Ivy". The film is short and sweet at 88 minutes with the unrated version running 93 minutes. GRADE: B+