Ellie (Nia Long) tries to mend her marriage with her husband Marcus (Stephen Bishop) after a brief encounter with an old friend, David (Omar Epps), only to find that David is more dangerous and unstable than she’d realized.
Ah yes, the dreaded Screen Gems-esque romance revenge thriller. It is without a doubt one of the most annoyingly repetitive and ever-so-frustrating film subgenres in existence. These types of movies wouldn’t bother me so much if at least a couple of them were good, but I have truly never seen a film with a plotline similar to the one mentioned above that has been good.
Just in the past few years, moviegoers and critics alike have been cursed with colossal duds such as When the Bough Breaks and Unforgettable. They all share the same basic plotline and they never have anything new or exciting to offer. I was really hoping that Peter Sullivan’s Fatal Affair was going to be that one movie that would break the curse. It stars Nia Long and Omar Epps in the lead roles; two actors who have proven throughout the years that they are remarkably talented in their fields. Sadly, this movie did not break the curse. It just added more fuel to the fire.
Of course, the biggest problem with the film has to be its painfully predictable, corny, and quite frankly tiresome story. It tries to be a surprising thriller that has clever twists up its sleeves, but these so-called “twists” can be seen coming miles away. Even still, if some viewers miraculously didn’t see these twists coming, I get the feeling that they would find them boring and stale nonetheless.
The film tries to set up several creepy and intense sequences but to no avail, too. Its main antagonist isn’t necessarily scary and intimidating but rather one-note and cliché. He feels like a knockoff version of Michael Myers. Why is that? This character has next to nothing when it comes to development and motivation. Sometimes, I just couldn’t help but shake my head as I realized I was watching a film with incredibly flat characters and a story that feels so bad that it doesn’t even deserve to be on the Lifetime channel.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, Nia Long and Omar Epps are the two leads in the film. While I don’t like their characters, mainly due to the poor writing that is given to each of them, they both try their best here. They don’t deliver good performances per se but was clear to me that they genuinely made an effort with the script that they got. Both of these actors – all of these actors, really – deserved a far better movie to display their talents. I know that the cast is full of talented people, but they just got saddled with a weak movie to prove themselves with.
Up to this point, it may seem as if I didn’t like a single aspect of Fatal Affair, but that’s not necessarily true. All of the lighting and camerawork on display here is actually quite strong. There are lots of blue hues and dark colors shown throughout the film that give off cold and unwelcoming vibes, and that was definitely done on purpose. The crew genuinely did a great job in that department.
But that’s really all I have to say when it comes to praises for this film. It’s an outlandishly goofy thriller that doesn’t have any thrills. It wastes its cast of extremely talented actors and will leave you feeling completely empty, but not in the way the filmmakers wanted you to. When the best element to your movie is lighting and camerawork, that’s not a good thing. Too bad the screenwriters didn’t go back to the drawing board.
Fatal Affair wastes its extremely talented list of actors and saddles them with weak, one-note characters that feel tiresome in this predictable thriller.
Overall Grade: D+
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Cast: Nia Long, Omar Epps, Stephen Bishop, KJ Smith, Jason Shane Scott, Aubrey Cleland, Maya Stojan, Carolyn Hennesy, Kate Orsini, Lyn Alicia Henderson, Fredella Calloway, Jacob Aaron Gaines, Kym Jackson, Estelle Swaray
Directed by: Peter Sullivan
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: July 16, 2020
Running Time: 89 minutes