US / 23 minutes / color / Aegis, Brothers Young Dir & Scr: Byron Conrad Erwin Cine: Tom Pritchard Cast: Jared Young, Josh Ford, Travis Young, Peter Kown, Brent Brooks, Brenda Norbeck, Jason Grant Davis, Carlette Jennings, Maura Perrin, Karli G. Brooks, Julia Butler, Mary Jac Beavers, Bob Young, Diana Young, Matthew Young, Ian George
A young man, Paul (Jared Young) is chronically depressed because, he thinks, of accumulated guilt over the fact that, every time he sees an attractive young woman, he harbors lustfully explicit thoughts about her. While this latter might seem a pretty normal state of affairs for most young (and, hm, even not so young) men, for Paul it’s an offense against his deeply held Christian principles.
Although shrink Eric Neil (Ford), equally Christian, pushes him away from such ideas, Paul fantasizes about suicide, which he sees as the only way out of his dilemma. However, suicide too is an offense against those Christian morals of his. Besides, when he makes some cackhanded attempts to take his own life he proves to be egregiously incompetent at them.
Eric is conducting group therapy with a bunch of other troubled young people as well as Paul, including Martin (Kown), Carter (Travis Young), Donna (Norbeck) and Albert (Brooks). The rest have become pretty weary of Paul’s suicidal talk, essentially suggesting that, if he really feels this way, he should perhaps just get on with it.
There’s a serial killer preying on hookers in the area, and Paul conceives the crazy idea that, if he dresses up in drag as a lady of the streets, he might be able to lure the killer into bumping him off. The experiment’s alarmingly unsuccessful, but it has an unexpected cathartic effect on him: he shakes off his depression and now wants to live.
But of course . . .
The theme of a person wanting to end it all but for some reason being unwilling or unable to commit suicide, and therefore seeking a killer to perform the actual deed for them, goes back quite a long way in the cinema. The earliest example I’ve been able to identify with certainty is Der MANN, DER SEINEN MÖRDER SUCHT (1931; vt The Man who Searched for his Own Murderer; vt Jim, der Mann mit der Narbe; vt Jim, the Man with the Scar), which was directed by Robert Siodmak and whose scripters included Kurt Siodmak and Billy Wilder. It in turn was based on a play (date unknown) by Ernst Neubach, itself based on a Jules Verne piece, Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine (1879; vt The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China).
Later movies sharing the trope include The WHISTLER (1944), The PRETENDER (1947), FIVE DAYS (1954), The Face of Fear (1971 TVM) and the UK comedy The Odd Job (1978), which I keep planning to write about for this site.
I’m not sure I’d say that Lure is a distinguished addition to the roster, but the movie certainly has its moments. Perhaps the finest of these come when Paul is fantasizing about his own demise, either self-inflicted or at the hands of the serial killer. The realization of these fantasies can, by the way, make it a tad hard at times to work out what’s happening in the real world and what just in Paul’s imagination: I enjoyed this aspect, but diehard literalists may not.