It’s like Lifetime, but without the gravitas.
Ellie Warren (Nia Long) is an attorney whose husband, Marcus (Stephen Bishop), is recovering from an accident. Their marriage has been strained since their daughter, Brittany (Aubrey Cleland), has gone off to college. They’ve moved to San Francisco where Ellie wants to start her own practice, although her boss, Janice (Carolyn Hennesy), wants her to stay at her current firm. Janice introduces the firm’s new tech consultant, David (Omar Epps), who Ellie knew in college. David asks her out for a drink and Ellie goes with him. The two hit it off and almost have sex in the bathroom before Ellie calls it off. Unfortunately, it turns out that David is an obsessive stalker who has been focused on Ellie for a long time and has a dangerously violent side. Somehow, this is not particularly interesting.
A few years ago Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell starred in a Lifetime movie called A Deadly Adoption where the joke of the film was that rather than being a parody Wiig and Ferrell played the film straight. Despite being two comedic geniuses, the movie wasn’t funny, it was just a normal Lifetime movie that wasted a ton of talent through trying to conform to a brand, and that was, itself, kind of a fun idea. This movie seems like it could have been going for the same thing except it appears to be designed to take a series of good actors and make sure that they deliver uninspired performances in a film that manages to be surprisingly boring.
A lot of it comes from the fact that Fatal Affair can’t ever decide if there should be a “mystery” element, but then never tries to hide anything in the film. It opens with a double homicide that hides the perpetrator, but at no point in the movie does it suggest that it could be anyone other than David that did it. So, we don’t think David might be a man who is slowly breaking down, we’re instead fully aware that he’s a violent, murderous lunatic right off of the bat. The way that a movie like Fatal Attraction, which this movie clearly is trying to take beats from, works is by focusing on the fact that the main characters and the audience really aren’t aware of exactly how far the stalker is really willing to go. When Fatal Attraction came out 33 years ago, the thing that shocked everyone was how sadistic a seemingly normal person like Alex Forrest (Glenn “Please give her an Oscar” Close) could be. However, this movie can’t duplicate that for four reasons:
First, we already have Fatal Attraction. It’s a powerhouse film that created one of the most iconic characters in cinema. This movie can’t be that movie’s towel boy. Second, that movie actually features an affair. Despite the title of this movie, Ellie only goes out for a drink and then STOPS HERSELF from having sex with David. She doesn’t even have the “affair” required to be a fatal affair. This makes it even more ridiculous that she doesn’t own up to her husband after David starts going crazy. Third, we’re told right from the start that David is crazy and violent. Hell, he’s in mandatory therapy and makes up a relationship in the scene right after he goes out with Ellie. Lastly, everyone in this movie is a moron. Unlike Alex, David isn’t particularly good at covering his tracks on anything and if Ellie were really a resourceful lawyer, she could easily have figured out a dozen ways to get him investigated or arrested. The cops are idiots for not figuring out David murdered people. Ellie’s friend Courtney (Maya Stojan), who dates David, is an idiot for not believing her friend over a guy she’s now dated twice. Everyone is dumb.
Moreover, this movie is just. so. boring. It has Omar Epps in it, an actor I enjoyed in both film and TV, as a psychotic killer, but I still can’t emphasize the fact that I don’t remember almost anything about this movie I just finished watching. All of the lines are removed of any tension by the way that the film is presented.
Overall, not a good movie. Not even a fun ironically bad movie, until maybe the third act. Just don’t bother.
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