Based on a real life murdercase, the so called Wonderland murders (christened
after the avenue where it happened), which did involve robbery, drugs &
real life porn star John Holmes.
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After his career in porn came to a (temporary, as history would show) end,
John Holmes (Val Kilmer) & his girl Dawn (Kate Bosworth) spend their time
drifting through cheap motels, spending their time with small thefts,
drugdealing & drugtaking. One day, John stays away from home (which is a
cheap motel room) longer than usual, & he comes back seriously high but also
deeply disturbed. A short time later, Dawn sees a report about quadruple
homicide on the news, at a house she & John had just been to a couple of
days ago ...
When the police investigating the murder scene, the house on Wonderland
avenue, they stumble over biker David Lind (Dylan McDermott), worried out of
his mind since his girlfriend was among the victims, & ready to confess to
the cops. Accoring to him, a stoned out of his brain John Holmes set them up to
rob Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian) of his drugs & dirty money, which
immediately seemed a bad idea to him, since Eddie was a big time nightclub
owner with some clout & connections to the mob. Still, they - that being
David, Ron (Josh Lucas) & Billy (Tim Blake Nelson) - did the job & even
succeeded. When it came to sharing the loot at the house in Wonderland Avenue,
though, & John, who didn't actually participate in the crime other than
leaving a door at Nash's house open for them, gets less than he had expected,
starts a fight that ends with him rushing off. & according to David's
logic, John did later come back to collect the rest of the loot, & kill
all his friends in the process, except for David who had been out rather
The police are now searching for Holmes, who first gives them shit about
wanting to go on the witness protection program with both Dawn & his wife
Sharon (Lisa Kudrow), who doesn't want to have anything to do with him though,
before telling the police his version of the story - that wouldn't qualify him
for the program, though, as it is full of holes: according to him, Ron, David
& Billy forced him to get them access to Nash's house, after some deal with
Nash went foul, & after they had successfully robbed him, Holmes foolishly
returned to Nash, believing if he showed up there, Nash wouldn't suspect him.
Nash however has already figured out Holmes' involvement himself, & forces
him to get him entrance into the house on Wonderland Avenue. Other than that,
John claims, he knows nothing ...
& that's all the police have to go on, neither do they know that John
sold his girl Dawn to Eddie Nash as a prostitute, nor that he after the crime
came to Sharon's place, covered in blood, nor can they get a testimony of
Ron's wife Susan (Christina Applegate), who did survive the ordeal at
Wonderland avenue badly injured - & who saw how Holmes, forced at gunpoint,
did participate in the killings ...
A film about John Holmes without nudity ???
It seems rather obvious that director Cox was not to much at ease with the
sleazy aspects of the movie & rather downplays them to get a
family-friendly rating - makes you wonder why he did make a film about John
Holmes in the first place then.
Apart from that though, Wonderland proves to be an interesting
true-story crime thriller, that avoids falling into the same trap as most other
true storie films, that is telling its tale from just one perspective &
presenting it as the truth (however distorted). Of course, the method of
telling a story from different perspectives & getting a different version
of the truth is not really new (& if you think Rashomon, you are of
course right, it didn't take a genius to figure that one out, though), still it
does give the story an interesting spin.