Written by: Adam Vaughn | January 13th, 2022
Brazen (Monika Mitchell, 2022) 2 out of 4 stars.
One of the first Netflix debuts of the year leaves little to be admired as director Monika Mitchell (The Knight Before Christmas) introduces a murder-mystery premise that is all too by-the-book. Brazen weaves a fun whodunit story, much in the vein of the Scream franchise, and incorporates a salacious backstory of a school teacher turned online entertainer. While the overall premise assures a suspenseful search for a killer with sexy, promiscuous undertones, Brazen plays most of its story safe and never truly reaches any unique points.
The film starts with mystery writer Grace (Alyssa Milano, You Are My Home) as she releases her newest novel. After her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup, Winter Castle) is murdered, Grace discovers that she was secretly a webcam performer for an online entertainment company. As the killer strikes over and over, Grace partners with Kathleen’s neighbor and local sheriff Ed (Sam Page, The Tiger Hunter) to discover who is behind the murders. Questioning the people closest to Kathleen, Grace utilizes her astute judgment of character to discover the secrets behind her sister’s killing.
Brazen unfortunately tells its story in a very predictable manner, hitting all the same beats found in a typical horror/mystery genre film, with only slight nuances that make it stand out from the usual. Mitchell utilizes talking heads to drive the story, which does the film a huge disservice, as many scenes contain an abundant amount of dialogue that adds little to the already conventional structure. The step-by-step character introductions to possible suspects reads as obvious, and the vast amount of supporting actors are written dryly and without unique traits. While the sexy webcam element adds an aesthetical nuance to the film through tantalizing color schemes and screen-within-a-screen visuals, overall it feels more like a gimmick. It’s disappointing, considering it is promised to be a main element in the story, and simply becomes a means to add to the kill count.
By the time Brazen concludes, we are left with a mildly entertaining premise that brushes over themes of inclusive sexuality, empowerment, and various other unique topics that make way for a traditional story of catching the bad guy. Grace is charming as the protagonist, yet a fiction-novel writer successfully leading a police investigation seems a bit odd after a while, and undermines otherwise interesting supporting roles such as Page, as well as Malachi Weir playing Page’s detective partner. In truth, I did find the ending effective, yet by the time the film is ready to conclude, the viewer is already aware of the movie’s predictable pattern.