Sometimes you don’t want anything more challenging than an escapist, lurid, cheesy thriller with a stylish look and an attractive cast — the kind of movie where you curl up on the sofa and chuckle at the obvious plot points, revel in the cheap scares and maybe even hurl a kernel of popcorn or two at the screen when things get particularly ridiculous and characters do the stupidest things.
Alas, “Fatal Affair” doesn’t even meet enough of those guilty-pleasure criteria to merit a home video spin.
To call this a Netflix Original movie is only half-correct. True, it’s on Netflix, but no, there’s nothing original about this uninspired knockoff of “Fatal Attraction” (even the title and the poster borrow from that 1987 classic of the genre), which is marred by stilted dialogue, predictable plot turns and surprisingly halfhearted performances from a talented cast that acts as if they know this is slick garbage and they’re just trying to make it through the shoot so they can call their respective agents and say, “We need to talk.”
The wonderful Nia Long plays Ellie, a hotshot attorney who is about to make a career change while working on a wobbling but still loving marriage with her architect husband, Marcus (Stephen Bishop). When Ellie shows up at the firm to handle one last case, she’s surprised to see her old college friend, David (Omar Epps), a techie advisor aka hacker who has been brought in as a consultant.
Cut to Ellie and David in a bar that night, with Ellie telling David the spark is missing from her marriage and it’s like there’s a stranger in her bed every night, and before you can say, “DON’T DO IT, ELLIE,” they’re going at in the bathroom, with Ellie putting a stop to things just before they have sex.
Ellie tells David it was a mistake. She just wants to get on with her life. David is having none of it. He’s convinced Ellie is the one, and he’ll stop at nothing — nothing, I tell you! — to be with her.
Poor Maya Stojan is stuck playing Ellie’s idiot best friend, Courtney, who quickly succumbs to David’s charms, becomes his girlfriend and doesn’t believe any of Ellie’s warnings about this psycho. In order for the plot to keep stumbling along, Courtney has to act like a complete dope on numerous occasions. As for Ellie’s hapless husband, Marcus, when he learns the truth about his wife hooking up with a man he’s unwittingly become friends with, he exclaims: “This guy’s out [in the backyard] drinking my beer, I played GOLF with this son of a bitch!”
The horror. The horror.
Or lack thereof, as “Fatal Affair” continues to sample putative twists and turns from far superior thrillers before running out of steam in a ludicrous finale during which we don’t really care who wins out, as long as this thing comes to an end.