Film review by Chris Olson
Stalking has become an everyday lifestyle habit, like yoga or coupon collecting. But the digital methods (Facebook, Googling) lack that personal touch - remember when weirdoes had to actually call you up? Breathing heavily down the phone like a sexually aroused asthma sufferer. Well, this short film from Adam Theroux is a throwback to the old ways, with Jacoby (Dan White), a textbook shut-in who fixates on a television actress called Rebecca (Wensday Greenbaum), tormenting her with his bizarre displays of affection.
There is a delightful symmetry to the roles Rebecca plays on television and the soap-opera style drama that ends up engulfing her home life. Melodrama oozes in every scene, with an operatic score that highlights the outrageousness of the plot and the characters. Jacoby, a man who seems to have gone off the deep end and fully embracing of his “madman” persona, drives most of the scenes, with White delivering a particularly effective portrayal of the emotionally volatile, and cerebrally unstable, loner.
The Final Obsession takes on a collage style, bringing in scenes from Rebecca’s acting career, some of which Jacoby twists into disturbing renditions of his own fantasies where he plays the leading man. The obsessive nature of his delusions, and the ramifications for Rebecca, are potent and maintain a deep threat level throughout the short film. Greenbaum delivers a worthy turn as arguably the most unlucky woman in the world, going through a bucket load of distress in twenty minutes with a great deal of poise.
Moments of comedy are scattered about the place with reckless abandon, and side characters serve up a few throwaway lines, but most of this is just distraction. It is the more bizarre scenes where Jacoby fantasises about his perfect life with Rebecca (told through a series of scenes from her movies) that are the most compelling, whilst the intimate dialogue between Rebecca and her cheating husband seems clichéd and unimaginative. Luckily the film’s tone of cheap television camouflages the shallowness of this.
The direction is consistent and engaging, but Theroux keeps pitches his tent too deep into farcical comedy-land, with sinister moments being drained of their power by a reliance on depicting the characters as foolish cartoons. Jacoby is a splendid creation, served up well by White, but his story seems squandered by a genre choice that irks.