That old sexist stereotype, the castrating woman, hasn’t vanished from pop culture. In John Patrick Kelley’s pulpy Freudian allegory, “The Locusts,” she makes a bizarre comeback in the person of Delilah (yes Delilah!) Potts (Kate Capshaw), the widowed nymphomaniac owner of a cattle ranch in Kansas.
In the film’s most lurid scene, this sex-starved gorgon, whose impotent husband committed suicide, forces her stammering, emotionally retarded, 21-year-old son Flyboy (Jeremy Davies) to watch as she castrates his pet bull, reducing the boy to quivering glazed-eyed catatonia.
All seems fairly calm on Delilah’s ranch until the arrival of Clay Hewitt (Vince Vaughn), a studly hitchhiker with a mysterious past. Delilah, eyeing him hungrily, takes him on as a worker on her feedlot, and it isn’t long before she has slipped into his quarters and begun slithering against him while the “Theme From ‘A Summer Place”’ conveniently plinks on the radio (the story is set in the early 1960s).
But the noble Clay stands his ground. He decides it is his personal mission to save poor Flyboy from his devouring mother by making a “man” of him in the usual way and enlists his sexy girlfriend Kitty (Ashley Judd) in a plan to get this quaking wreck of a youth a willing sex partner.
If the screenplay for “The Locusts” reads like a drag queen spoof of Tennessee Williams (without Williams’s poetry and humor), this turgid two-hour melodrama is paced and acted with a deadly solemnity.
Capshaw’s Delilah, a sinewy, glowering monster, delivers her lines in a grim monotone. Vaughn is physically a dead ringer for the young Paul Newman but lacks his prototype’s vocal authority.
In a role perfectly suited to Anthony Perkins in his “Psycho” mode, Davies gives a performance that is one long contorted twitch. Having portrayed a similar character in “Going All the Way,” he seems stuck in a rut of playing scrawny young virgins in dire need of a soothing sexual initiation.
xxxx “The Locusts” Location: Lincoln Heights cinemas Credits: Directed by John Patrick Kelley, starring Kate Capshaw, Jeremy Davies, Vince Vaughn, Ashley Judd, Paul Rudd, Daniel Meyer, Jessica Capshaw Running time: 2:04 Rating: R