Secret Obsession – review (Netflix)

Jennifer Williams (Brenda Song) is running for her life from a mysterious man hunting her on a rainy night. Desperate to get away from him, she hides out in a remote service station restroom. He follows her into the restroom, but she manages to escape, running out and getting into her car outside. He follows her and sees her in the car.

As she tries to drive off, he disappears. She starts the car but cannot drive off. He is in a truck behind her and has attached a tow rope to her car, preventing her from moving. She jumps out of the car and runs, frantic with fear. She runs into a road and is hit by a car.

Jennifer ends up in the hospital, her body busted up and the impact of the car having caused her some brain trauma. At the hospital, her husband, Russell (Mike Vogel), comes to see her. He is told she is in surgery and unconscious. A few days later she wakes up. She cannot remember him or the accident she had.

Russell assures her that it will all come back to her and stays with her as she recovers in the hospital. Eventually, he takes her home to a remote location in the woods. Detective Frank Page (Dennis Haysbert) is investigating the accident. He interviews witnesses and finds out that a truck was there. He wonders why Jennifer was there.

Page is convinced, due to certain aspects of the investigation, that Jennifer’s incident was not an accident. At the Williams home, a wheelchair-bound Jennifer tries to piece together memories.

Nothing is familiar. Jennifer, feeling bad about not remembering her husband, insists on being in the bedroom with him, even though it is upstairs. Russell carries her up to the room.

I wear glasses. I’m trustworthy.

Page contacts Russell; he wants him to bring Jennifer down to the station to talk to him about the accident. Russell says that he will the next day. When Jennifer asks him about the call, he lies and tells her it was a work call.

Russell goes to see Jim Kahn (Paul Sloan). He wants to know why Kahn was asking about his wife. Kahn wants to know why he cares. Russell hits him with a tyre iron and chokes him to death.

Jennifer wakes up to find the bed empty, Russell is not there. She sees him burying something in the garden. Page is not met by Russell as planned, so he decides to go and find him. He goes to the hospital and talks to nurse Masters (Ashley Scott).

The nurse tells him she has not been able to get hold of the Williams, as she wanted to schedule physiotherapy for Jennifer. The address Page has for the Williams turns out to be bogus.

Jennifer is looking through a photo album and notices something odd about one of the photographs. She goes downstairs and tries to get on to Russell’s computer but does not know the password. Russell returns and almost catches her, but she tells him she is just trying to prompt her memory.

Page continues to investigate and finds out that nobody called to tell the husband that Jennifer was in the hospital. Russell tries to get amorous with Jennifer but she rejects him, his touch triggering a bad memory. Russell gets angry, showing a side of himself she had not seen up to that point. Page calls nurse Masters and asks for the surveillance tapes from the hospital carpark.

He sees Russell on the surveillance tape. Page finds out that Jennifer’s maiden name is Allen. He tracks down her parents’ address and heads to their house. He finds their rotting corpses in the bedroom. Jennifer is suspicious of Russell and finds her driver’s license in his wallet. She sees that it has her maiden name on it.

Russell leaves the house and locks her in the bedroom. She picks the lock and gets into his computer, her maiden name being his password. On the computer, she sees photos and realises that all the photos that Russell has shown her are fake. Page finds out that Russell is not who he says he is and has taken the place of the real Russell, her husband.

Jennifer tries to make a call on the mobile phone Russell bought her but finds there is no sim card in it. Russell comes back and knocks her out. He ties her ankle to the bed and goes out. Jennifer wakes up and escapes the bond. She finds her old mobile in the garage. Russell returns and opens the garage door, causing her to hide. The real Russell is dead in the boot of the car.

No door can hold me!

Jennifer hurries back to the bedroom before Russell can discover she left. Page finds the house and Russell tells him to come up. Jennifer tries to warn him but Russell knocks him unconscious and puts him in a freezer. He threatens to break Jennifer’s ankle and takes her back to the bedroom, tying her to the bed once more. She escapes again and gets out of the house. Russell goes looking for her.

She tries to distract him and attacks him with a log. He easily overpowers her, knocking her to the ground. He takes out the gun he got off of Page and is about to kill her. Page, having escaped from the freezer, tackles him to the ground, causing him to drop the gun. As the two men struggle, Jennifer picks up the gun and shoots Russell.

Three months later Page is retiring and Jennifer is leaving her old life behind. Page gives her a letter from the real Russell. The end.

Secret Obsession is so achingly predictable that it borders on boring. With elements of Misery, Sleeping With The Enemy, Play Misty For Me and just about every film featuring an obsessive wannabe spouse, it brings nothing at all new to the niche genre.

With a real made-for-television vibe about it, Secret Obsession is not awful enough to offend but it is not good either. The acting is passable, with Haysbert the most recognisable face in the cast. Vogel is perfectly serviceable as the obsessive Russell, menacing and threatening in equal measure.

Written by Peter Sullivan and Kraig Wenman, with Sullivan also on director duties, Secret Obsession is a thriller by numbers that is low on thrills and a little too long for the convoluted story it tells at ninety-seven minutes long.

Song is engaging enough as the injured object of desire, Jennifer, but truthfully, the story is too thin and plot holes too large for the film to flow properly, the main plot hole being that an absolute psychopath like Russell could have bodies piling up around the country and nobody noticed.

As is the way with some of these made for television thriller-dramas, the music is cranked up to eleven and just irritates rather than adding to the atmosphere. Secret Obsession is not the worst film I have seen, but there is nothing to recommend it either. Probably best to give it a miss.

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