Nisid Hajari
June 28, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

UNDERTOW Lou Diamond Phillips, Mia Sara (1996, Republic, R, priced for rental) Since Deliverance, the redneck has developed a reputation as a menacing, politically inoffensive villain. But this made-for-Showtime thriller — in which Lou Diamond Phillips plays a footloose loner stranded with a backwoods psycho (Charles Dance) and his child bride (Mia Sara) — asks too much of that cliche. Despite a finely twisted performance from Dance, Undertow consists primarily of an extended staring contest between the two antagonists that strives to be smoldering but ends up childish. By the time the ludicrous battle-to-the-death climax rolls around, one wishes they’d just shoot marbles to decide who gets the girl. C

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