Netflix has Rancid incorrectly categorized as a horror movie. In reality, this direct-to-DVD effort is a crime thriller that I think wanted to be an erotic thriller but chickened out. I also suspect director Jack Ersgard would have liked a young Tom Cruise to play his lead. Matthew Settle plays James Hayson, a writer who hasn't been able to write anything for six years, and whose tousled hair and perpetual five o'clock shadow suggest an actor trying a little too hard to look like the star of Mission Impossible. James's life has been a shambles ever since Monica (Fay Masterson) left him. His book is going nowhere and he supports himself by writing for a local paper and moonlighting as one of those blights upon humanity known as telemarketers, though what he makes isn't enough to keep the bill collectors from calling. The one time that the film's title is evoked is when his boss at the paper asks him "how's life," and he responds, "Rancid."
Against his better judgment he attends a high school reunion at the home of Crispin Klein (NYPD Blue's Currie Graham), a former classmate that James has always despised, and their relationship has further deteriorated since Crispin married Monica. At the reunion James runs into old friend turned police detective Andy Fell, and falls victim to a plot by Monica when she gives him a hug in full view of everyone including her husband. Crispin strikes Monica repeatedly for daring to embarrass him, then sends a pair of thugs to James's apartment to rough him up, which begins an escalating cycle of violence. The story bounces back and forth between present day and flashback, with the film opening as James hides in the Klein estate after a murder. Exactly who has been killed is not revealed until fairly late in the film, which adds a nice degree of suspense. As luck would have it (or IS it luck?), Andy is one of the detectives investigating the case.