“You Get Me” is a spurned-lover thriller for teenagers, “Swimfan” with less swimming, “Fatal Attraction” without the bunny.
It offers model, bombshell and tabloid princess Bella Thorne the chance to play the bad girl — REALLY bad — in a world of unearned affluence, casual beauty and consequence-free sex that yes, has consequences. But it’s tepid, generic thriller, and Temptress Thorne isn’t really up to the menace she’s supposed to generate here.
Tyler (Taylor John Smith) is a teen, spending the summer between his junior and senior years “living my California dream,” a poor lad close to the water in a coast California dreamscape of posh parties and sea views with no viable economic reality (Dude can afford Malibu environs on a part time job bussing tables? They’re broke? He drives a restored vintage Jeep Wagoneer?) attached.
He’s all about the gorgeous and rich Ally (Halston Sage).
“Ally? She ‘got me,” he narrates. “Love changes you. Makes you do things you’d never want to do.” Like tai chi.
But being a rich girl, Ally has a past, and a rich Summer’s Eve named Chase ( Of course he’s played by a guy named Rhys Wakefield.) shows up to remind her of it, and slut-shames her to Tyler.
The party is a humiliating bust for Tyler. Ally doesn’t take his “You slept with THAT guy?” blast well. He’s dumped, and here’s Holly.
She tilts her head and flips her hair, fetchingly, alluringly. She bites her lip. She’s been working on that “come and get me, big boy/girl” for years. Wait, that’s Bella Thorne, the actress, who’s been “working” that. Holly, her character? She’s mysterious. She just knows how to work it without us knowing how she knows.
Holly drives a Jag convertible. “It’s not mine.”
She’s got the pills, and she passes them like a pro — with a kiss.
“I don’t know….”
“You swallow, I’ll swallow.”
Subtle. He is putty in her hands, etc. When they wake up in the hilltop mansion she’s “house sitting,” he is further bowled over. Wait until he finds out she’s “not really a house-sitter at all. I just…broke in!”
Sure, it’s all frolics and picnics by the pool and sex in the pool until…you know. He has to leave. And Ally wants to explain and patch things up.
“No more secrets. Ok?”
Um. Sure. You got it.
That’s when Holly shows up at their school, and is enrolled. And is all “Did you tell her about us? I can be VERY discrete.” Right.
Game on, kids. Ingratiate yourself with the girlfriend, show off your “art” photography, “date” Tyler’s pal Gil (Nash Grier) to be around them, make Tyler jealous and play Gil like a tuna on the hook.
The “stranger danger” signs are there — evasive about where she lives, her “parents,” no social media presence. But Tyler is slow to speak out. “Discrete.” Will anybody take him seriously when he does?
First time feature director Brent Bonacorso paints the “You Get Me” canvas in broad, generic strokes — teen wish fulfillment fantasy about the lifestyle, the locale, the fashions and “perfect” love and sexual encounters. It’s a soap operatic spin on a genre of thriller, light on suspense, heavy on the supposed foreboding.
Smith makes Tyler blandly stricken, upset but not wound-up enough at the growing evidence of Holly’s villainy. Tyler’s got to come clean and Smith has got to make that more of a struggle we see in his face. Like most of the players her, he was cast for his looks.
Sage has a leading role here, but she’s blander than she was in “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” or “Before I Fall,” where her supporting parts had more meat to them. Her moments in peril are like a bad audition.
Whatever public image Thorne has cultivated, and you get the impression she’s capable of “whatever it takes” to get attention, headlines and job offers, she’s more at home suggesting a lying, hormonal schemer than she is at generating fear at what a predator like Holly might be capable of.
Whatever the script has her connive, her femme fatale could use a little work. Watch Erika Christensen in “Swimfan.” She knew how to dial up the obsessive stalker with eyes that kill.
It’s not just about ensuring you get a lot of sex and swimsuit scenes, dear.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, adult situations, sexuality, profanity
Credits:Directed by Brent Bonacorso, script by Ben Epstein. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:29