‘Fatal Affair’: An Obsessive Stalker Preys on Unsatisfied Married Woman in Recycled Netflix Thriller
A successful San Francisco lawyer (Nia Long) is about to embark on a second act when her life is disrupted by the appearance of an old college chum (Omar Epps) in “Fatal Affair,” a formulaic Netflix thriller packed with melodrama. What starts off as a possible midlife crisis turns into something else entirely after Mr. Perfect is revealed to be an obsessive psycho.
“Fatal Affair” opens with a steamy scene between a woman, Deborah (KJ Smith) and her lover, Travis (Jason-Shane Scott). Their romantic evening is cut short when she discovers him dead in the tub and an unknown intruder grabs her. Cut to the present, and lawyer Ellie has just moved from the city into a beautiful oceanfront home with her architect husband, Marcus (Stephen Bishop). Although little is said, we come to understand that the pair, who married 20 years ago right out of college, have hit a rough patch recently. Not only that, he has experienced some health problems as a result of an incident that we discover more about later. With their daughter, Brittany (Aubrey Cleland), now in college, Ellie is about to move from her high-pressure job at a city firm to her own local practice, and it seems like now is the perfect time for the couple to reconnect
Despite how tranquil her life looks on the surface, Ellie still is not entirely satisfied with her home life, which makes it easy for David, her former college classmate who we come to learn had an obsessive crush on her, to momentarily sweep her off her feet. David, a handsome tech consultant, shows up at her firm, having been hired by her boss, Janice (Carolyn Hennesy), to work on what is to be Ellie’s last case. Afterwards, Ellie and David end up alone together, having drinks at a posh club, but she puts the breaks on the affair before things get physical.
What follows next is disturbing behavior from David, which starts out as annoying texts and escalates into full-blown stalking and even violence. He even goes as far as to seduce Ellie’s lonely best friend, Courtney (Maya Stojan), to get to her. His career as a tech consultant (or hacker, more accurately), comes in handy when it comes to not only hacking into emails, but also playing with his phone to convince Courtney that Ellie is the one stalking him. Ellie puts herself in harm’s way more than once in attempts to outsmart her stalker, leading to plenty of tension-fueled moments.
“Fatal Attraction” joins “Secret Obsession” and “Dangerous Lies” as recent examples of melodramatic Netflix titles, guilty pleasure films that one would probably not feel good about paying to see in a theater, but are good enough for streaming. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is evident by multiple plot holes and moments of intentional humor.
The most redeeming part of “Fatal Attraction” is Epps’ performance. The seasoned actor really commits to his role of this outwardly charming, mentally ill man. It’s visible in his eyes at key moments. Highlights of the film include a visit to his court-ordered therapist (Fredella Calloway), which, sadly, we only see once. Predictably, things do not work out in David’s favor, but Epps seems to have a fun ride.
“Fatal Affair” begins streaming July 16 on Netflix.