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Shock to the System

Reprising the role he originated in "Third Man Out," Chad Allen stars as the central character, here hired by a young man who almost immediately turns up dead. Investigating the suspicious suicide at the behest of the victim's mother (a well-preserved Morgan Fairchild), Strachey goes undercover to pose as a patient at the Phoenix Foundation, a gay conversion clinic led by a charismatic but shady doctor (Michael Woods).

While the idea would certainly seem to hold promise for interesting social commentary, the script by Ron McGee lacks the necessary bite, as does the rote direction of Ron Oliver. As with many mystery films, the convoluted plot is ultimately less interesting than the gallery of supporting characters, which here include Strachey's loving boyfriend (Sebastian Spence) and enthusiastic assistant (Nelson Wong).

Not helping matters is the earnest but not terribly interesting turn by Allen as the gay shamus. Clearly reluctant to invest the character with any possibly stereotypical attributes, the actor instead delivers a performance that is as bland as the film's outdoor locations.
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