Movie Information

The Story: A psychotic temp decides she and an office executive are having an affair, which comes as news to him and causes no end of trouble. The Lowdown: Tedium vies with accidental humor in this incredibly tepid thriller. Tedium wins by a landslide.
Genre: Subpar Thriller
Director: Steve Shill
Starring: Idris Elba, Beyoncé Knowles, Ali Larter, Jerry O'Connell, Christine Lahti, Bruce McGill
Rated: PG-13

I don’t mind that TV director Steve Shill’s theatrical film debut, Obsessed, is mindless, overheated, undercooked trash. I mind that it’s boring mindless, overheated, undercooked trash. That’s the one thing trash can’t withstand. Unfortunately, it’s also the one thing Obsessed has in abundance. Oh, it has other things—awful dialogue, hysterically obvious setups (the more forgiving among us may call this “foreshadowing”), laughably bad performances, a mentally defective story line—but it’s the boredom quotient that cooks the goose. (Considering the movie took the top spot at the box office last weekend, it may be concluded that one shouldn’t underestimate the value of the prospect of seeing a cat fight between Beyoncé and Ali Larter.)

Here’s the premise: Derek (Idris Elba, RocknRolla) has some kind of very important job at some kind of very upscale company. He also has a doting wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), a small son, Kyle (Nicholas and Nathan Myers), and a newly acquired upscale house—not to mention an Escalade and a Benz. Life is sweet—until he makes small talk with an obviously overly friendly temp (“Let me manage to show you my inner thigh when we first meet”) named Lisa (Ali Larter, Resident Evil: Extinction), who comes to work at his upscale company.

Of course, no one—apart from composer James Dooley, who lays on the suspense music with a very large trowel—seems to notice that Lisa is spectacularly unbalanced. Quicker than you can say “sexual-harassment suit,” she’s involved in a torrid affair with Derek. Derek doesn’t know this, but stalker Lisa is quite capable of carrying on both sides of the affair all by herself. Now, just exactly how this conspires to destroy Derek’s marriage, job and life is accounted for by the idea that prior to marrying Sharon (who had been his secretary—never mind that she doesn’t act like she could sharpen a pencil), Derek had garnered a rep as the office Lothario. The fact that every character in the film is a card-carrying idiot takes care of the rest. This is one of those plots where two or three well-timed sentences could have prevented everything.

There are several points of note in the catalog of unintentional mirth. I’m still tussling over which of the following scenes is funnier: the one where Derek’s secretary (Matthew Humphreys, The Good Shepherd), who is prone to gossiping (of course) and happens to be gay (even more of course), blabs every possible piece of information to psycho girl about Derek and Sharon’s plans, or the one where loony Lisa transparently bamboozles the world’s dumbest babysitter into letting her into Derek and Sharon’s house. Amusing inanities like this might have kept this rubbish afloat had the rest of the movie not been so damned dull and in such obvious need of cutting. The entire opening could be chopped out with the movie instead opening with Lisa flashing her inner thigh at Derek. Nearly every scene of people driving around is superfluous, but when you think about it, superfluous is a perfect description of this whole tired suspenseless suspenser. It’s a sad day in movieland when you start thinking what good movies Fatal Attraction (1987) and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) were by comparison. Rated PG-13 for sexual material, including some suggestive dialogue, some violence and thematic content.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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3 thoughts on “Obsessed

  1. Andrew Leal

    Just commenting to laud Mr. Hanke for once again demonstrating his perspicacity in classification, pointing out that yes, “Subpar Thriller” is by now an established genre and likely to remain with us for some time.

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