'Wild Things' Is A Blackly Comic Masterpiece; Its Three Sequels Are Also Movies Set In Florida

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, I've been forced to accept the existence of three – three! – sequels to one of 1998's best comedies.)

You read that headline right. 1998's Wild Things is a comedy, and it's a pretty brilliant one at that. Sure it's also sleazy, ridiculous, and filled with more twists than a busload of Chubby Checker impersonators, but the damn thing is a blast from beginning to end. Every frame is dripping with sweat and pheromones, every character wants to shtup every other character (when they're not busy shtupping them over), and the entire cast plays it 100% straight. Well, maybe not Bill Murray, but no one's complaining.

A recent re-watch confirmed it as beautifully absurd and gloriously entertaining, and for a brief while, all was right with the world. Then I got the bi-weekly call from Slash HQ. Don't tell him I shared this, but my editor Jacob Hall likes to pick the sequels I cover here, and I think he enjoys it a bit too much. Every two weeks he pulls out his wheel of DTV sequels, puffs menacingly on a cigar, and gives the wheel a spin as his sadistic chuckles echo around him...but I digress. This week's torture was decided, and that's why I endured a first-time watch of the three DTV Wild Things sequels made between 2004 and 2010. (And yes, I'm terrified of the day Jacob's wheel lands on Hellraiser.)

Keep reading for a look at Wild Things 2, Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough, and Wild Things: Foursome.

The Beginning

Wild Things (1998) opens innocently enough with a school assembly at Blue Bay High organized by a very popular guidance counselor named Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon). The teen boys want to be him, the teen girls want to be with him, and Sam knows it. Rich girl Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) has her eyes on him too, but after finagling her way into his home on a hot day, she exits with torn clothes and an accusation of rape. The case intensifies when Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell), a poor, trouble-making girl from the trailer park and frequent target of Kelly's bullying, accuses Sam of raping her the year prior. Toss in a dogged detective (Kevin Bacon) after Sam's hide, Kelly's incredibly wealthy socialite mother (Theresa Russell), a pair of dueling lawyers (Robert Wagner, Bill Murray), and a toothless alligator wrestler, and you have a case that Nancy Grace would have given her husband's left nut to cover were it real. Twists, turns, and rug burns follow as the truth is revealed to be a many-headed monster that frequently takes the form of the beast with two backs.

Director John McNaughton captures the sun-dappled sins of Florida residents with one eye each for sex appeal, salacious antics, and silliness. Yeah, I know that's three eyes, but you'll wish you had three eyes as you take in all this movie has to offer. The script (by novelist turned screenwriter Stephen Peters, The Park Is Mine) sets up the plot and characters for what looks like a traditional suspense thriller – albeit one where everyone is constantly in heat – before upending everything just 30 minutes in with a twist that a lesser movie would have saved for the finale. Don't worry, though, as there are 68 more where that came from. It builds (descends?) into a frenzy of double-crosses, surprise betrayals, and crazy revelations that extend even into the end credits! It's a beautiful piece of dripping wet madness that you'll simultaneously want to f*ck, m*rry, and k*ll.

The DTV Plot

As mentioned above, this was a first-time watch of these three sequels for me, and in the hopes of turning this torture into fun, I decided to make thoughts and predictions while I watched as to who's dirty, who's sleeping with who, and who's gonna live to see another Blue Bay sunrise. (Yes, they all take place in the same Florida town seemingly populated by horny, murderous teens and the adults who love them too much.) You're probably not going to watch these movies, so please enjoy my spoiler-filled plot descriptions below.

Wild Things 2 (2004)

Brittany is a rich girl who's sad that her mom is dead in the swamp from an apparent suicide. I immediately suspect this teen's out for sexy revenge. She heads to school and crosses paths with bad girl Maya before assembly, and it's made abundantly clear that they hate each other which means it's also clear they're secretly working together. The teens gather for an assembly, again, featuring a cop and the local coroner offering warnings about the dangers of excess and tips on disposing of a body. This seems inappropriate but is a direct riff on the first film's opening. Det. Morrison is a straitlaced cop, but Julian the coroner is a generically attractive young man so I fully expect the girls will seduce him into their scheme. One gratuitous girls' beach volleyball game later and we discover Brittany's stepdad Niles owes money to some unsavory people. She's obviously going to sleep with him – nope, nevermind, his single-engine Cessna crashes into the ocean.

Accident? Not according to Terence the insurance investigator who determines he was killed – by Brittany – and the weapon was hungry rats in the plane's engine compartment. Sure, why not. The insurance guy is super focused on nailing these crooks, which basically puts him in the Bacon role, which obviously means he'll be revealed as part of it too. Brittany's suitably sad until she learns his will only leaves her $25k per year because she's not a blood relative. Did I mention bad girl Maya is also a journalist on the school paper? Good for her. She learns the latest on Brittany's troubles, and the next day is in court claiming to be Niles' biological daughter. If you're thinking "the plot thickens," well guess what? A character actually says this very thought out loud.

Maya offers love letters as evidence and is genuinely surprised when the judge asks her for a DNA match instead – time to seduce the coroner! – which she provides a few days later. Case closed, Maya inherits the $70 million, and then... surprise! Brittany and Maya ran the scam together and celebrate by making out in Niles' wine cellar. Surprise number two! Julian the coroner is in on it too, and soon all three are "stomping grapes" with their naughty bits in the cellar. Allan Havey's playing a pajama-clad scientist? Terence is growing more suspicious by the minute, and the girls decide three's a crowd and flat out shoot the coroner.

That seems to have been so inevitable that I didn't even stop to see it coming, but before I can berate myself further, the insurance guy arrives to blackmail the girls. Good luck. Brittany kills Maya point blank, frames Terence for everything, and flies off into the sunset. Surprise! Her dad Niles is still alive and hiding on the Cessna. The pair apparently planned the whole thing to help him dodge his gambling debts, but clearly now they're gonna join the mile high clu– Nevermind. She kills him too. Cut to a warm beach as Brittany enjoys a nice drink with – surprise! – her mom, who also apparently faked her own death. Good gravy, this family. It's a happy ending for these two, but as mom sips at the drink Brittany prepared, the teen watches a bit too intently. She's about to kill her mom too.

Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005)

I'm gonna make a bold prediction right out of the gate and say that diamonds will somehow come into play here, and just like that we're introduced to a perky blonde "teen" named Marie who really wants the $4 million diamonds left to her by her mom. Her stepdad Jay is fighting it though so odds are Marie will have some underage tart sleep with him and blackmail him. Marie arrives at school and almost hits a fellow student with her car – say hello to our bad girl Elena who's definitely about to be in on something with Marie – before heading to assembly. That's right, this is Blue Bay, so it's time once again for cops to come talk to teens about sex. Florida is a wild place y'all.

Dr. Chad Johnson works in the forensics lab despite looking the same age as our teen leads, and Marie and Elena will definitely be boning him later to woo him into their nefarious plans. Officer Kristen Richards, meanwhile, works in juvenile parole and is here to share her own experience with being raped. She's Elena's parole officer so we know they're in cahoots somehow too. In addition to being a greedy stepdad, Jay is also something of a pervert who introduces himself to bad girl Elena by saying "So you're a bad girl." Marie has a birthday pool party – the better to exit the pool in slow motion – where she fights publicly with Elena (mmhmm) before discovering that Jay owes money to gangsters. Elena shows up at Jay's construction site at night for some reason, and the next morning he's arrested for raping her. This is obviously a false accusation.

Det. Morrison is back! He's the only recurring character so far in these films (although supporting actor Marc Macauley is in the first two movies as different characters). Morrison was the straight man last time who was fooled by teen sociopaths, so I hope he's smarter this time around. Dr. Johnson finds bite marks on Elena's breast, which is all the proof the DA needs, and as the trial commences it seems clear Jay's going to prison. Or is he?! Marie suggests he give her the diamonds to sell so she can pay off Elena, and he readily agrees. Fool! That's all she wanted from the first frame, and – surprise! – within moments, she and Elena are making out in celebration of their scam. Wait for it... "Mind if Chad joins in?" says freaking Dr. Chad, and soon the three of them are humping like Nessie in the pool. "The only thing dry by this point is the plot formula," I say to myself and smile.

Furious that his payoff failed, Jay tells the cops what's what, and they find evidence in Elena's trailer suggesting this was all planned out from the beginning. Dr. Chad steals the diamonds, and after a brief chase involving a car and an airboat (?), Marie and Elena kill the idiot. Elena's caught and convinced to wear a wire in an attempt to entrap Marie, but suddenly both teens have guns (Florida!) and are engaged in a shootout. Parole officer Kristen shoots Marie saying "I didn't have a choice" but you know damn well she did it because she's in on it with Elena. And just like that, the two of them disappear from town, leaving Det. Morrison in a heap of trouble.

Cut to a warm beach as Elena and Kristen share a drink with – surprise! – Jay the stepdad. What? I'm not entirely sure what the deal is here, but then Elena hands him a drink and you know he's moments away from death. Turns out Jay was the one who raped Kristen all those years ago, and it resulted in her giving birth to Elena? Jay the stepdad is Elena's actual dad. And then Jay falls to his death, leaving this installment to end on another note of mother and daughter celebrating their bonding over murder, sex, and deception.

Wild Things: Foursome (2010)

Carson is a young man partying at his dad's waterside mansion with his girlfriend Rachel – and I'm immediately thrown by the presence of a male lead, let alone a lead who's not in high school – when he's interrupted by the arrival of a rival named Shane the bad boy. The two measure figurative genitalia in the form of cigarette speed boats and decide to race, but Shane hands piloting duties over to his bikini-clad blue-collar mechanic Brandi. I'd say this is the foursome of the title, but isn't two guys/two girls more of a minor orgy than a foursome? Am I just stuck on sexual semantics? Don't we need a third girl? Carson kisses Brandi at his party, and only Rachel's friend Linda (a third girl!) witnesses it. He's addicted to sex and allergic to shirts, but his bigger issue is unresolved anger at his father who he blames for his mother's suicide. I'm resisting the urge to suspect a carbon copy of Wild Things 2, so I'm predicting the mom is actually dead and not just faking it for revenge.

Carson's dad dies in a racing accident, but Det. Walker suspects foul play – hmm, maybe it is a carbon copy? Carson's suitably sad until he learns the will cuts him off from the money unless he gets sick or married, and while Rachel's up for the latter, Carson's too young, hot, and shirtless to settle down. Can anything change his mind?! Paging a rape accusation in three, two, one... Suddenly Carson's arrested for raping Brandi, an act supposedly witnessed by Linda, and I'm thinking this whole franchise couldn't be more obvious about belonging to a pre-#metoo reality. Frumpy George was an assistant to Carson's dad and now oversees the trust, and he suggests paying Brandi off to get her to drop the charges. Of course, the only way to get the money is to get married, so Rachel's the brains behind it all? Rachel says "I do," Brandi says "I lied," and Carson's a free man.

Surprise! Rachel and Brandi planned it all. Surprise! Linda's in on it too. Carson's not thrilled about the setup, but one hot, four-person shower later, he's a happy man again. Now's about the time they start knocking each other off, so I'm guessing Linda and Carson are first to go, and like clockwork Rachel and Brandi talking about killing Carson. Turns out the girls have been best friends (and lovers?) since they were teens back in the Everglades. They kill Carson and quickly turn on each other as Det. Walker gets closer to figuring it all out – hey look, Marc Macauley is inexplicably back as a completely different character again! – but it's Brandi who was smart enough to hold onto evidence, meaning she's freed and Rachel is convicted. Surprise! Walker is in on it with Brandi!

They haven't had sex, and he doesn't want to. He just wants his share of the money. So, of course, she stabs him in the gut repeatedly and dumps him in shark-infested waters. Cut to a warm beach as Brandi pulls up in her boat to be greeted by George and a suitcase full of cash. Surprise! George and Brandi are romantically involved, but as Brandi drives away in the boat, she blows up while he smiles. What! Frumpy George?! I did not see this coming. George is the last man standing, and in case, like me, you forgot about Linda fret not... she's the one who triggered the explosion! Yeah! George and Linda are in it to win it. This is easily the happiest ending of the three sequels.

Talent Shift

When it comes to recognizable talents, there's no contest between the first film and the follow-ups. McNaughton is the director behind Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, an acknowledged genre classic, while sequel directors Jack Perez, Jay Lowi, and Andy Hurst probably haven't even seen Henry. The story's the same in front of the camera too. Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, and Bill Murray are all fantastic actors, and Denise Richards has been in big movies, too. The closest you get to name actors in the sequels are Isaiah Washington, Brad Johnson, and Dina Meyer – all capable performers, but come on.

How the Sequels Respect the Original

Themes of sex, murder, and deception obviously carry over across the sequels, but their biggest show of respect comes down to keeping the action set in Blue Bay, Florida. It's unnecessary – clearly the local authorities never catch on to the criminal masterminds lurking in their high schools – but it makes for an oddly endearing continuity. All three sequels shot mostly in Florida too. They also follow the first film's lead in showing explanatory scenes during the end credits – we see all the missing pieces as characters make connections, plot out their moves, and reveal their secrets. It's kind of fun seeing how it played out in between the scenes in the movies themselves.

How the Sequels Shit on the Original

I'd be lying if I said I didn't find some enjoyment in these three movies, but they're still pale follow-ups to the vastly superior original. All three are flashy, slickly shot affairs completely devoid of the sweaty, sultry atmosphere and essence that pervades McNaughton's film. They're shallow knock-offs, and while they have plenty of skin on display, it's empty T&A more suitable to Cinemax than the cinema. Story-wise, they follow in the first film's sin and skin-filled footsteps as characters screw each other over for cash payouts until only one or two remain, but as evidenced by my pretty damn good prediction rate, they're content being cookie cutter redos instead of finding fresh new ground. There's no real suspense or mystery, there's nothing intentionally funny to be found, and they're ultimately and instantly forgettable.


Wild Things is an absolute gem of a thriller featuring devious people and deviant behaviors, and it's guaranteed to stand the test of time. The three sequels feature scantily clad people behaving badly, but there's a reason you haven't seen them (or maybe even heard of them) before now. They're definitely watchable, though, and in the world of DTV sequels that's an achievement worth bragging about.