Fatal Affair – review

Brief synopsis: After a traffic accident to her architect husband and their daughter going away to college, a lawyer decides to leave the city and set up a new practice in a coastal town where her husband can continue to recuperate. Whilst still working for her old city firm, she meets an old college friend in a meeting about a case.

The two reconnect and on a night out almost have a brief affair but she pulls back. The old friend does not want this second chance at having her to get away and becomes dangerously obsessive.

Is it any good?: The lazy title, Fatal Affair, probably answers the ‘is it any good?’ Question sufficiently. The trailer tells the less than original story and there are no plot twists to hold or pique one’s interest. Fatal Affair is lazy nonsense.

Spoiler territory: a couple are canoodling on a sofa, in front of an open fire. After making love, Deborah (KJ Smith) tells Travis (Jason-Shane Scott), she needs a drink of water and gets up and goes to the kitchen. As she pours herself a glass of water, she hears a noise in the darkened apartment.

She calls out to Travis as she makes her way back to the lounge where they were on the sofa. He is no longer there. She goes upstairs, into their bedroom. He is not there. She hears water running and smiles. She heads to the bathroom., disrobing as she sees that he is in the bath.

As she gets closer, she sees that the bathwater is diluted with Travis’ blood and he is dead. Deborah starts screaming. Her screaming is cut short as she is grabbed from behind and dragged out of the bathroom.

Ellie Warren (Nia Long) drives along a coastal road, heading to her new home. A lawyer, she is speaking about her final case that she is working on for the city firm she is leaving. Reaching her new home in Oceancrest, Ellie enters the new home and calls to her husband, Marcus (Stephen Bishop). Marcus, though fully mobile, is recovering from the after-effects of a traumatic traffic accident.

Their daughter Brittany (Aubrey Cleland), has gone to college. The couple have been together since college and had their daughter shortly after leaving college. Their respective careers, Marcus is an architect, took priority in both of their lives. Marcus feels a move from the city, and their daughter away at college, it is a good time for them to reconnect in their relationship.

The next day, Ellie is in the city for a meeting on her final case and meets up with her friend, Courtney (Maya Stojan), who works in the same building for another law firm. She wants Ellie to come out for drinks with her but Ellie tells her cannot because Marcus is cooking dinner. Courtney, not to be deterred, insists that she come out the next evening.

Ellie goes to her meeting and is surprised to see an old college friend, David Hammond (Omar Epps), at the meeting. He has been recruited by the firm for his expertise in hacking and information retrieval. After the meeting, David and Ellie catch up briefly. He asks her if they can get together but she tells him the same thing she told Courtney, she is busy. She gives him her card and tells him that he can call her.

Ellie and Marcus have a sterile dinner. David brings information for the case the next day, impressing the firm with his speed and efficiency. Ellie turns David down again when he invites her for celebratory drinks, telling him she is meeting up with Courtney. She quickly reconsiders and tells him he can come and meet them at the bar.

At the bar, Ellie gets a call from Courtney. She is stuck at work and will not be able to meet her. David sees Ellie just as she is ending the call. They have a few drinks together as they catch up. Ellie tells David that she is married but lies to Marcus when he texts to asks how the drinks with Courtney are going.

Ellie and David go to a night club. Still drinking, they get amorous in the bathroom. Ellie stops David before they go too far and leaves the club. David goes after her. She tells him that their actions were a mistake. She goes home.

The next day, as Ellie looks to put the night behind her, David is seeing his therapist, Dr Leigh Beverly (Fredella Calloway). He tells her that he is doing well and that he is seeing someone, alluding to Ellie. He lies, telling the doctor that she is getting out of a long term relationship. The doctor asks him whether he is over what happened to Deborah. David gets noticeably agitated.

Brittany comes to the new home to visit her parents. Back at work in the city, Ellie meets up with Courtney for coffee. As she leaves Courtney to return home, David stops her at her car. He wants to know why she has not returned his calls. Ellie tells him again that she is married.

At home, David continues to bombard Ellie’s phone with texts messages. She blocks him. Later, as Ellie and Marcus are making love, David watches them from outside. The next day, Marcus visits his wife at her new offices. They are expecting Courtney for dinner later in the day, so Marcus leaves Ellie at work. Later, with Brittany out with her boyfriend Scott (Jacob Gaines), Ellie and Marcus prepare dinner for themselves and Courtney. Courtney turns up with a guest. It is David. He pretends he is meeting Ellie for the first time and she does likewise.

At the dinner, an uneasy Ellie watches David comfortably lying his way through the evening. Ellie and David talk in the kitchen. She tells him that she has no desire to see him again. Ever. The next day, Ellie receives a parcel with a vinyl record in it. The record is one that was being played when they went to the club.

Ellie cannot get hold of Courtney. She meets with David again. She is angry and tells him to stay out of her life. David tells her they can have an affair, convinced there is something between them. As Ellie sets him straight about the state of their relationship, David snaps and calls her Deborah. Ellie wants to know who Deborah is. He does not answer. Ellie reiterates that she does not want to see him again.

Courtney comes to see Ellie in her offices. She is angry. David has told her that Ellie is stalking him and even shown her the text messages he has received from her. Ellie tries to tell her that David is manipulating her but Courtney does not believe her. Ellie begins to investigate David.

She heads to their old school and meets up with their old professor, Nicole (Kym Jackson). She asks her about David. Nicole tells her about Deborah, who was his ex-wife, being killed and how possessive of her he had been. She also tells her that David was obsessed with her.

David sneaks into Ellie’s home and steals some of her underwear. Brittany almost encounters him as she comes back from a night out. David keeps stalking Ellie. He sends her a video from their night a the club. Ellie tries to contact Courtney, who still refuses to take her calls.

Ellie decides to follow David. She follows him as he meets up with Marcus to play golf. She gets into his apartment and finds photos of Deborah and Travis making love the night they died. There are also photos of herself and Marcus making love. Courtney takes a call from Ellie. Ellie warns her about David, telling her he is with her only to get to her.

David catches the end of the call and asks Courtney about it. Courtney lies but they end up in an altercation and Courtney is knocked unconscious. Ellie calls the police and tells Marcus what has been going on with David. The detective, Larson (Lyn Alicia Henderson), comes to see them the next day. She believes that David has committed suicide as they have a body burnt beyond recognition and suicide note from David.

A relieved Ellie gets a call from her secretary, Linda (Estelle Swaray). She needs to sign some documents at the office. Ellie heads to the office. She finds Linda dead. She gets a call from David. He is at her home and has her family. Ellie calls detective Larson. Larson sends a patrol car to Ellie’s home.

Ellie rushes home and finds Brittany’s dead boyfriend on the back porch. David is waiting for her in the house. He plays the record he sent to her. Ellie gets into an altercation with David and knocks him out with a vase. She goes and frees her family, who are tied up in a bedroom. The family-run out of the house and see a police car outside.

The policeman in the car is dead. Marcus puts their daughter in the car and tells her to go. Ellie is attacked by David as she tries to use the police radio. Marcus fights with David and is getting soundly beaten. David throws him over the bannister. Ellie stabs David in the gut with a kitchen knife.

Marcus and Ellie run to the beach and up to a cliff edge. David gets the gun off of the dead policeman and pursues them. He catches up to them at the top of the outcrop. As they all fight, David ends up falling to his death off the edge of the clifftop.

Marcus and Ellie decide to sell up and return to the city. The end.

Final thoughts: written and directed by Peter Sullivan, with an additional writing credit for Rasheeda Garner, Fatal Affair is a plodding, underwhelming, thriller by numbers film that would have had a more inviting title if it was called ‘stalker man terrorises college crush twenty years later’.

Most of the cast have been in far better projects than this and probably turned up because, well, there’s a pandemic and work is not that plentiful. Also, the majority of the cast is black. It is perversely heartening to think that the lazy stalker trope can be utilised regardless of the race of the cast and with no urban references.

Still, Fatal Affair is rubbish. The script is plodding and mostly exposition, there are unnecessary characters, with Cleland’s Brittany not only adding nothing at all to proceedings but a complete personality vacuum. There was no good reason for the character.

Fatal Affair is not the worst film on Netflix but it is not good. At ninety minutes long it was still a struggle to get through, a real chore. The acting is fine but with the terrible script and the unoriginal story, one just does not care what is going to happen or, more pertinently, already know what is going to happen. Fatal Affair is not worth ninety minutes of your life, even in the lockdown.

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