“Basic Instinct” is a 1992 film about a storybook-perfect murderer and the detective out to solve it. Starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, this film has become a classic suspense thriller since its release. With great acting and a unique plot, this film hooks its audience and keeps them guessing until the final scene.
Set in San Francisco, “Basic Instinct” begins with the murder of an innocent man. Detective Nick Curran (Douglas) is trying to locate the killer. The murder was executed exactly as it was described in a horror novel written by author Catherine Tramell (Stone). Tramell is the leading suspect, but she appears to be innocent in every lead that Nick has. During his research, Nick begins to fall for the beautiful author. While he still has his doubts about her innocence, he becomes her lover. She is working on a new novel with Nick as her inspiration, and soon all signs begin to point towards Nick’s own impending demise. As the film unfolds, viewers are drawn into Nick’s world of research, doubt, and suspicion. His ex-wife, Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) becomes another suspect, and Nick’s allies begin to disappear. Even at the conclusion of the story the audience is left with an uneasy feeling that not everything has been solved.
The acting in this film is what makes it so successful. Douglas and Stone have a chemistry that is both erotic and unnerving, keeping viewers uncomfortable at every turn. Not once is the audience allowed to relax and believe that things are improving. Instead, the dialogue and innuendos between the actors keep everyone on edge, always expecting the worst.
To fill in where there are no words, the music in “Basic Instinct” is just as unsettling as the acting. One of the key factors in any suspense or horror film, the music keeps the tension when the scenes change or the conversation ceases. The high string sound has been stereotypical of thrillers ever since the Hitchcock films, but it succeeds despite that cliché. The music does make the film sound dated in some occasions, particularly when the same theme is repeated ad nauseum, but it does not detract from the film in any way.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is a film of thrillers. It has very explicit sexual scenes and references to drug usage, and is rated R for good reason. For those with the stomach for suspense and some smaller murder scenes, this is a classic that should be rented or bought. Do not watch this on TV, as it will be edited and will lose a lot of the suspense in the commercial breaks.