Wild Things (1998)

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Film and Plot Synopsis

The scheme is far from tame. But whose scheme is it? Assume nothing as you venture beyond Blue Bay’s elite beach communities and into the murky waters of the Everglades for a mystery of deceit, sex and greed as unpredictable as a hungry gator. And please, keep your hands inside the boat at all times. Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards and Bill Murray star in a swamp-steamy thriller about two high school students, the guidance counselor they accuse of rape and the detective who knows there’s more to the story. (Courtesy Sony Pictures)

‘Wild Things’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Wild Things (1998) Sam Lombardo is a well respected guidance counselor at Blue Bay High School, located in a richie richie Miami, FL suburb. Lombardo is very popular with the student body and teaches a sailing class as an extracurricular activity. The ultra wealthy Kelly Van Ryan, a senior at Blue Bay, accuses Sam of raping her in his apartment after she and a friend washes his jeep during a charity fundraiser. Kelly’s mother and Blue Bay socialite, Sandra Van Ryan, vows to bring Sam Lomardo to justice for sexually assault her daughter. A few days later, Kelly’s fellow Blue Bay student, Suzie Toller, who lives in a rundown trailer near the Everglades, comes out and accuses Lombardo of raping her also. These criminal accusations lead Sam to engage an eccentric, strip-mall attorney, Kenneth Bowden, to defend him at his high profile trial.

During Sam’s rape trial, Bowden is able to get Suzie to confess that Kelly coerced Suzie into staging a revenge scheme against Lombardo. Kelly, who had feelings for her guidance counselor, learned Sam was having an affair with her mother, Sandra, and became ultra bitter. Suzie also wanted revenge on Sam, her mentor, for not bailing her out of jail when she was arrested on a minor drug possession charge. The girls have a violent altercation in the full courtroom, further confirming their scheme. Ultimately, Sam was exonerated and it was decided Kelly had perjured herself while she was testifying about the rape. To protect Kelly from being charged with perjury, amongst numerous other crimes, Sandra’s attorneys negotiated an $8.5 million settlement with Ken Bowden, on Sam’s behalf. Sandra siphoned the money from Kelly’s trust fund, further angering the young vixen, and making Sam Lombardo a multimillionaire.

Shortly after receiving his money, Sam returns to his apartment to find Kelly Van Ryan waiting for him. The two begin to passionately celebrate their successful scheme against Kelly’s mother, Sandra. We learn the duo had been planning the fake rape scenario so they could get the money out of Kelly’s trust and run off together. During the celebration, Suzie, their willing accomplice, arrives at the apartment and the threesome begins to have the most passionate ménage trios in South Florida history. The trio want to have one night of ecstasy together before they begin phase two of their plan and disappear.

Police Detectives Ray Duquette and Gloria Perez begin to suspect the trio has scammed everyone from the beginning and start to put pressure on the girls, sensing Lombardo is the ring leader. Duquette tries to convince Suzie that Sam is hiding money in an offshore bank account, cutting her out of the plan, and running off with Kelly. A shaken Suzie and Kelly question Sam on the phone, just before they have a Dynasty level cat fight in Kelly’s swimming pool…then begin to kiss, disrobe each other, and have the most passionate ménage dos in South Florida history. While all of this is happening, a very perverted Detective Duquette is capturing it all on video.

Sam meets up with Kelly and Suzie nights later for another celebration, but it was all a set up between Sam and Kelly to kill off Suzie. While Kelly gets a blanket from her vehicle, Sam appears to have bludgeoned Suzie to death and wrapped up her body in plastic. Sam and Kelly take Suzie’s body to the nearby swamp to dispose of it.

Against the wishes of the Blue Bay District Attorney and their superiors, Detectives Duquette and Perez continue to closely investigate Sam and search for a now missing Suzie. Thanks to one of Lombardo’s trusted students, Ray is led to the general area where Suzie was killed. Duquette finds blood trails and Kelly’s tooth. Later that evening, while surveying Sam’s apartment, Perez is visited by Lombardo, who provides her with evidence that may incriminate Kelly in Suzie’s death. Ray, subsequently, enters the Van Ryan compound without a warrant and confronts Kelly in the guest house. From an exterior point of view, the audience sees gunshots being fired inside the guest house. Ray receives a shoulder wound during his altercation and has killed Kelly with two shots to her chest.

Days later, Blue Bay’s internal police investigators determine Kelly’s death was a justified shooting, but Ray is terminated because he intentionally disobeyed direct orders from his superiors and illegally entered the Van Ryan house. At the same meeting, the District Attorney announces they have sufficient evidence to prove Kelly killed Suzie, despite the fact that Suzie’s body has never been found. These cases are officially closed and Sam Lombardo has left town to begin his new life.

Soon after, Sam is seen on a tropical island, living the good life. When he returns to his beachside cabana, Sam is surprised to find his partner in crime, Detective Ray Duquette, taking a hot shower. The duo begin to argue that Kelly was not supposed to be killed, just framed for Suzie’s death. Also, Ray is not happy that he has not yet received his share of the money. They agree to bury their grievances for the time being, share some beers, and enjoy their new lives.

While out on a large sailboat, Sam cons Ray into dealing with a loose rigging, then rocks the boat so Duquette is tossed overboard. Ray climbs back aboard the boat and confronts Sam. However, a very much alive SUZIE TOLLER shoots Duquette with a speargun, then tosses the former detective into the ocean to sleep with the fishes. We learn Suzie wanted Duquette dead because Ray had killed her friend Davey while Davey was defending a local swamp girl from a vicious Ray Duquette beatdown. While Sam and Suzie celebrate their masterplan, Sam starts to feel ill and Suzie confesses to poisoning Sam’s drink. Suzie, who is a skilled sailor, uses a beam to send the former guidance counselor to his death. A victorious Suzie sails off to live her life in the sun with all of Sam’s money.



The viewing audience is gifted with mid credit scenes that fill in all of the movie’s storyline gaps. How did Sam and Kelly meet? How did Suzie fake her death? Was Kelly’s death justified? What caused Suzie to use Sam, Kelly, and Ray as her pawns? To find the answers to these questions, and many more, you will have to listen to the entire podcast and watch today’s featured film: Wild Things.

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John McNaughton

Sony Pictures Releasing released Wild Things on March 20, 1998. John McNaughton directed the film starring Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, and Matt Dillon.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)
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