Excess is the rock on which Bret Easton Ellis built his house. The author's work is frequently adapted into film (American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction, Less Than Zero), each story usually dealing with a core demographic: rich, often blonde, and prone to extremes. The sex, wealth, drugs, and violence in Ellis' latest translation, The Informers, do not break pace—though beyond creating a simultaneously attractive and appalling portrait of early-'80s LA, it's unclear what, if anything is the message.

Many stories thread together here: A producer (Billy Bob Thornton) juggles his wife (Kim Basinger) and his mistress (Winona Ryder); a kidnapper (Mickey Rourke) keeps a young boy hostage; an alcoholic father (Chris Isaak) attempts to bond with his son (Lou Taylor Pucci); a destructive rock star (Mel Raido) stumbles and slurs. Meanwhile, pretty rich kids gobble drugs and bounce around each other's beds as AIDS makes headlines.

There are reports that there's an early version of this film, one more humorous and scathing, but the cut being released is, in fact, just kind of cruel. A vampire subplot was also dropped, which is too bad—a vampire could have served as a good metaphor for the ill-considered actions of these characters. As it stands, the film is little more than a scintillating sneer.