Poison Ivy Review

Poison Ivy
Ivy is a flirtatious high school girl, who leaves her aunt to go and live in the enormous house of her wealthy but reclusive friend Sylvie. She quickly becomes established, doting on Sylvie's mother, Georgie and trying to seduce her father Darryl. Soon Sylvie feels that she is being usurped and seeks to regain control.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Jan 1992

Running Time:

90 minutes



Original Title:

Poison Ivy

Another home invasion psycho-drama with Drew Barrymore as Ivy, a pouting school slut with a short skirt and a stick-on thigh tattoo. Ivy hooks up with misfit rich kid Sara Gilbert (the neurotic daughter on Roseanne) and moves into her palatial house, charming her bedridden glamourpuss mom (Ladd) and making moist eyes at her stuffy dad (Skerritt).

At first, Gilbert comes to depend on her friend and sort of enjoys getting drunk and tattooed, but gradually she realises that Ivy appears intent on replacing her in the household and, supremely pissed-off, turns vigilante to get her life back. While most of these movies have gripping first halves taut with psychological drama and hidden menace then blow all the hatches with look-out-behind-you stab-athon climaxes, this remains ambiguous and intriguing even when the inevitable murders start.

Barrymore never becomes an outright monster, even when staging suicides and seducing older men, and the on-off relationship between her and the fantasising, mixed-up Gilbert suggests all kinds of odd things going on between the antagonists. Unlike all those other rich white homes, this family isn't perfect at the outset and Barrymore is as bewildered and terrorised by the irrational mood swings of the folks she is stuck with as they eventually are by her habit of resorting to violence to sort out her problems

A good performance from Barrymore, the admirable Gilbert (who talks as her character on Roseanne would if she was covered by an 18 certificate) and director Katt Shea Ruben, a Roger Gorman associate hitherto best known for sleaze thrillers set in strip clubs.
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