For Better and for Worse

(aka Terror Stalks the Class Reunion, Clive Donner, Canada/France, 1992)


It may come as news to some filmgoers, but author Mary Higgins Clark became one of the undisputed stars of the video shop in the early ’90s – and continues to live on into the twenty-first century on cable television.

Her fiction is a very intriguing mix of elements from diverse genres, combining romances of the Female Gothic variety with horror and thriller devices that derive from the contemporary slasher film.

In effect, this mix resembles a dark Hitchcock romance of the ’40s – a wife in peril, locked up in a lush mansion as in Rebecca (1940) – updated with the gory violence of the Halloween film series. It is a riveting combination, to say the least.

For Better and for Worse is directed by veteran Clive Donner. It has a pretty complicated narrative conceit. Two women (Kate Nelligan and Jennifer Beals) avidly discuss their mutual problems concerning the men in their life, who are either too unfeeling or too wrapped up in their work.

Both women then tangle with grotesque parodies of aberrant male behaviour: an old boyfriend who has become psychotic in his search for true romance; and a violent serial killer.

Like A Cry in the Night (1992) – another film in this collection – it has many amateurish elements. But this slapdash, mix-and-match quality is part of the appeal of the entire Higgins Clark series.

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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