Netflix has been aggressively producing content for quite some time. In their quest to churn out films and series, they often make trashy, pulpy thrillers that should be reserved for the darkest corners of Lifetime and Hallmark. Starring Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Emilie Ullerup, among others, Brazen sees a mix of kink and blood by the director Monika Mitchell who attempts to make a raunchy thriller but misses the mark.
Based on Nora Roberts’ Brazen Virtue, the film sees Milano as Grace Miller, the author of the mentioned book, who leaves her book-signing event to meet her estranged sister. Seen in a different appearance from her last appearance in Charmed, Milano is seen reconnecting with her sister, Kath. The latter is dealing with the divorce of her controlling husband while working as an English teacher in a private high school. Kath has also allegedly let go of her pill addiction and is trying to be a better mother to regain the custody of her son, Jonathan.
However, Kath’s locked safe room holds the key to her secret identity as Desiree, an online dominatrix clad in a wig and latex lingerie, asking her online submissives to voice themselves “louder” via webcams. Amidst Grace’s blooming romance with their next-door neighbour, Ed, who is coincidentally a detective, Kath gets murdered. Comically enough, Grace becomes a core part of the investigation. She reasons that her murder writing sensibility might help with the procedure.
Everyone is a suspect, from Kath’s dangerous, well-connected husband to the school janitor and her two other mysterious students who seemed to have taken a liking to Kath. As more cam girls begin to disappear, very soon, Grace decides to don the similar facade of a dominatrix to lure in the murderer. Although Milano tries pretty hard to look convincing as a cam-dominatrix, we cannot help but laugh at how hilarious the investigative procedures are, where an untrained woman is technically used as bait. Unlike what Miller says about the books focusing on the exploitation of women, it seems to be simple pulp fiction meant for teens with high libidos for murder and sex.
The plot is pretty predictable for thriller aficionados. From the very start, the intentions of the characters are pretty evident. Blame it on the acting or the script; it simply becomes somewhat of a boring kink fest only half an hour into the film. While it is indeed an eye-opener regarding the dangers and perils plaguing the lives of virtual influencers who become the objects of obsession among the delusional, the execution is pretty flimsy.
The trailer had seemed indeed promising, but like many other Original productions, the two-minute thrill ride is somehow better than the 90-minute doldrum. Sure, there is a henpecked boy who grows up with hatred in his heart for his controlling mother and decides to kill Kath the moment she goes from being the nurturing matriarchal figure to the bold and audacious Desiree to avenge himself. But that’s all there is to the plot.
Latex, whips and dominatrices galore, the film is a good background watch. The only thing ‘brazen’ about this pseudo lovechild between Fifty Shades of Grey and 50 Pieces is the filmmaker’s attempt at creating a supposedly riveting thriller.