Directed by #PeterSullivan
No prizes for spotting the titular allusion in director Peter Sullivan’s potboiler thriller. Co-authoring the script with Rasheeda Garner, Sullivan’s film treads the well-worn trail of psycho-obsession movies but brings frighteningly little to the table.
Married lawyer Ellie Warren (Nia Long) unexpectedly reunites with old acquaintance David Hammond (Omar Epps) and it isn’t long before the smooth-talking chancer makes his romantic intentions known. After backing out of a steamy bathroom encounter, Ellie refocuses on her family life with husband Marcus (Stephen Bishop) and daughter Brittany (Aubrey Cleland). However, David has other ideas.
At first, Fatal Affair does appear to throw in some marginal variations to the formula. Aside from reversing the Fatal Attraction roles (though this has been done before), Sullivan opens with an atmospheric murder scene and even offers an interlude with David in session with his psychiatrist. Other than that, everything in Garner and Sullivan’s script is painfully predictable. We spot the cliches a mile off. The seemingly perfect family life of the victim. The only child. The inevitable scene where the obsessive stalker turns up at the family home, having befriended one of the victim’s friends or family. The almost supernatural power that they seem to pervade over every facet of the world of their would-be admirer. Finally, the unsurprising sting-in-the tail ending where the maniac returns to wreck havoc once last time (usually in the family home). These are only a handful but audiences will certainly know the rest of the beats from the likes of Sleeping With The Enemy, Single White Female, Swimfan and The Boy Next Door to name a small few.
Genre tropes aside, much of the set-up strains credibility. As David, Omar Epps fails to convince, shapeshifting from slick tech consultant into crazed criminal simply because the plot requires it. Ridiculously, David strikes up a relationship with Ellie’s best-friend, Courtney (Maya Stojan) seemingly overnight in a bid to get closer to Ellie. The fact that sexy, younger Courtney is smitten with David (to the point where she illogically trusts him over her long-time friend) and ends up giving him the very thing he craves from Ellie actually makes you wonder why he doesn’t just settle for her instead. And, of course, it isn’t until Courtney becomes a victim of David that Ellie finally goes to the police. Finally, after attacking her best friend, multiple others and attempting to destroy her family, Ellie suddenly makes a last-minute U-turn to save David before he plummets to his death and is then left distraught at his demise. In fact, there is not even any affair; the only fatal thing here is the lack of care given towards the script.
Like the aforementioned other entries in this genre, Fatal Affair somehow proves to be, at the very least, curiously watchable, even if it is largely for the wrong reasons. Yet, Peter Sullivan’s disappointing thriller sinks due to a virtual depletion of imagination, a clear absence of craft and, most notably, a fatal lack of suspense. Fatal Attraction this isn't.