Bad Influence: Curtis Hanson Seductive Noir Thriller, Starring Rob Lowe and James Spader

Bad Influence, an early film from Curtis Hanson (the 1997 L.A. Confidential) is a seductively shot noir thriller, which benefited at the time from the offscreen publicity of “bad boy” Rob Lowe.

Writer David Koepp borrows from Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train) as well as from his own feature, Apartment Zero, in telling the dark Faustian story.

Yuppie Michael Boll (James Spader) befriends Alex (Lowe) after the latter comes to his help in a barroom.  Gradually, Michael begins to realize that the creepy friend is controlling his life in some unexpected ways.

Hanson’s direction is assured, emphasizing the weird morality of the tale by shifting the tale’s point of view and keeping the viewers guessing about the twisty characters and their ambiguous sexuality.

There is a good rapport between Lowe, who was then in the midst of a scandal (making his explicitly erotic video public), and Spader, who was cast right after his winning performance in Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape.

Running time: 99 minutes



Alex (Rob Lowe)

Michael Boll (James Spader)

Claire (Lisa Zane)

Pismo Boll (Christian Clemenson)

Leslie (Kathleen Wilhoite)

Patterson (Tony Maggio)

Ruth Fielding (Marcia Cross)



Produced by Steve Tisch

Directed by Curtis Hanson

Screenplay: David Koepp

Camera; Robert Elswit

Editor: Bonnie Koehler

Music: Trevor Jones

Production design: Ron Foreman

Art direction: William S. Combs