The Luster Factor
During a night out with a friend at a club, Connie (Marla Sokoloff - A Christmas Wedding Date) is approached by a man calling himself Andrew (Jason Gedrick - The Last Don II) who gives her a drink of water. What Connie doesn't know is that the water is laced with a drug called Liquid X and she not only ends up back at his place but when she wakes up in the morning is sure that she has been drugged and raped. Struggling with what happened, Connie's father, Fred (Winston Rekert - Before I Say Goodbye), supports her in going to the police where she tells the Ventura County Sheriff's department what happened or at least what she can remember. With Connie's assistance the police start investigating Andrew who is in fact Andrew Luster, the Max Factor heir, and discover that Connie is by no means the first woman he has drugged and raped. But during his trial Andrew goes on the run with the judge deciding to proceed with the hearing in his absence.
So "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" is another one of those TV movies which dramatize a true story, changing names to protect the innocent. And like so many of these made for TV movies this one was made whilst the true story was on going, as at the time Luster was on the run. Except the producers had to make some quick changes to "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" when before completion Luster was caught by Duane Chapman, the famous bounty hunter. But "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" works because unlike some of these movies which rely on the audience having knowledge of the true story this one walks through the story in easy digestible and frankly unsettling chunks, whilst also managing to be entertaining without feeling exploitative.
Now it has to be said that there are some scenes in "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" which are certainly uncomfortable to watch. Once the police arrest Luster and collect the evidence which includes photos and videos we get scenes which feature people's responses to what they witness and it is clearly very disturbing what Luster did to the women he drugged and violated in a number of ways. It is this side as well as flashback scenes of Connie's rape which hit you the hardest, especially a scene where a pregnant woman is shown Luster's videos from 4 years earlier and is distressed by what she sees him doing to her. This woman has a further part to play and her story is an emotional one as she agrees to give evidence.
Jason Gedrick also has a big part to play in the success of "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" as it is how he plays Luster as a dangerous, conceited sociopath who thinks he can get away with things which is why you keep finding yourself drawn into the drama. In fact all the actors are good be it Marla Sokoloff as Connie or Stefanie von Pfetten as Teri who is pregnant. I say good and by that I mean good in a sense of this being a made for TV movie and as such the characters don't always have the best of the writing and dialogue to work with.
What this all boils down to is that "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" is both disturbing and entertaining but in the right way rather than in an exploitative manner. Yes it is a made for TV movie and has many of the regular issues which come with the territory but it is well put together and acted to keep you interested even if you are unaware of the true story.