The 2nd

Brief Synopsis: a group of mercenaries are tasked with kidnapping a senator’s daughter as she leaves college for the Christmas holidays. Their plans are interrupted when a green beret, the father of one of the daughter’s friends, realises that something is not right and intervenes. 

Is it any good?: The 2nd is a pretty dumb title for a very dumb film. The story is Die Hard meets Zero Dark Thirty, with some double-cross nonsense thrown in to make it more convoluted. The acting is uniformly terrible and the script even worse. One to give a miss. 

Spoiler territory: green berets, a domestic terrorist, Hansen Cross (Anthony Oh), sporting the classic Middle Eastern looks with an added scowl, is contacted and told that his target is senator Jeffers (William Katt). He is to make it messy, so I’m guessing a big bomb. As a crowd protest outside the senator’s office building, inside Jeffers is informed that a Delta team is coming to extract him.

There has been a bomb threat. Jeffers, who is about to be interview by an attractive journalist (Reisa Miller), is eager to voice his pro-gun views to the journalist and goes ahead with the interview, even as his aide advises against it. Vic Davis (Ryan Phillippe) and Kyle (Tank Jones), the Delta unit, are on their way to pick up Jeffers. 

They flip a coin to decide who gets to pull him out of his interview. Vic wins and goes and gets the senator. On the news, it is being reported that Jeffers’ office has had a bomb threat against it. It is also reported that the CIA director, Phillips’ (Richard Burgi), daughter died in a bomb attack. He is pro-gun. 

Jeffers is with Vic and Kyle. He wants to know what is going on. Vic tells him that he is on a list of already dead politicians. Jeffers gets a call on his mobile. Vic screams at him that they are trying to track him. Why they did not secure his phone beforehand is not a question that is addressed. 

A car crashes into them. Vic tells the senator to stay behind him as multiple masked men start to shoot at them. The mask seems to make them especially stupid as most of them shoot at Vic, Kyle, the senator and the other agents who were backing them up, in full view. Maybe the mask makes them bulletproof? They do not and, even with most of the agents being terrible shots, they end up dead. 

Kyle gets captured by Cross, who is wearing a suicide vest. It does not look good for Kyle. He is a black guy and – though I don’t like to play the race card – is expendable to both the plot and follows the rules of film where the black guy dies first. He is also the sidekick of the hero, so…

Kyle, dumb hunk that he is, tells Vic to shoot Cross. Cross tells him to lower his gun. Vic listens to Cross and lowers his gun. Why? Does he really think the psychopath with the suicide vest is not going to kill Kyle? Cross points his gun at Vic. Kyle, a hero to the end, detonates Cross’ vest. They both die. 

Sometime later, Vic is going to pick up his son, Shawn (Jack Griffo), from college, so as they can spend some time together. As he packs up some gear, he drops his phone and it breaks like its 1990, immediately failing to work. His significant other, Olivia (Samaire Armstrong), comes to see him off and tell him to bond with his son.

She lost her mother at a young age, so she knows how he feels. So there is that. Vic tells her not to forget to lock the doors when she is in the house. Strange but okay…

At college, Shawn is fencing with Erin Walton (Lexi Simonsen). She wins the bout and a bet the two of them had. Shawn asks Charlie (Patrick McLain), to pay Erin. He will pay him back. Later, Erin asks Shawn when he is getting picked up. He tells her that his dad is running late. What about her? She tells him that her father is too busy with the gun-control issue and is sending a driver. 

Neal (Jacob Grodnik) comes into the gymnasium and tells all the students that they need to leave by five. Neal catches up with Erin and Shawn again and reminds them they need to leave by five. Erin tells him that she is not getting picked up until six. Neal tells her he will make an exception for her. Shawn has to leave by five. 

Vic has been slowed by traffic and is running late. At the college, Rogers (Kia Mousavi), campus security, stops Erin’s driver. He does not recognise him so he needs to check his license. The driver shoots him. Rogers, who is not going down like a punk, sounds the alarm. In the college building, Charlie asks Shawn to make sure that everybody has left the campus. 

He was meant to do it but he has to catch a flight. Erin is the only person who has not left. Shawn is reluctant to seem too pushy, as he obviously likes Erin. Charlie reminds him that he owes him. Shawn agrees to finish the check. Charlie tells him to give the list to Neal when he has finished. What could Neal be doing? 

Rogers sounding of the alarm has brought the cavalry. Driver (Casper Van Dien) waits with a cane. He is told to put the cane down. He obliges. One of the campus cops approaches him and asks who he is. Driver is not a man who likes to answer questions it seems and immediately thrust a hand into the campus cop’s throat. That will teach him not to get to close. He shoots his three colleagues and then kills him. A bit over an overreaction but it shows he is a bad man. On the campus, Shawn goes and checks on Erin to see how long she is going to take. 

Outside, Driver and a crew of five, half of whom, for no good reason, are dressed in disguise, look to capture Erin. Vic arrives at the campus. He is met by a guard – one of the crew, so that makes seven – he lets him in. He informs Driver that Vic is coming. He should not be any trouble he is there to pick up his son. Never seen Die Hard then. 

Shawn and Erin leave the campus building. Vic meets Shawn and the driver comes and takes Erin’s bag. Erin tells the driver that she has forgotten her laptop and goes back into the building. Shawn tells her he will wait until she has left as he promised Charlie he would make sure everyone had left. Erin mentions that the driver is not her usual one. 

Father and son have a stilted conversation as they wait for Erin to come back. Shawn covers his motorcycle, which just happens to be right outside of the campus. A suspicious Vic notes the crew members standing around, watching. He tells Shawn to get in the car. He is going to get Erin. Vic asks Erin to call her father, Justice Walton (Randy Charach), and check if he changed the driver. 

One of Driver’s crew, who is tracking all the electronics from a van, cuts the call just as she asks about the driver. Erin had already got the answer. He did not change the driver. Driver tells the girl in the van to cut the lights. It is not even dark, so the move makes no sense but they do it anyway. 

Vic, he’s a green beret you know, tells Erin to get down. Because that is what one does in a power cut. He checks out of the window. The crew are not doing anything differently from what they were doing before. Maybe the driver is eco-friendly. Shawn decides to go and look for his dad and Erin. 

One of the crew, posing as a cleaner, knocks on Erin’s dorm door. Driver tells the crew to move in and extract the target. This is serious. He has gone full military speak. In the van, the electrics girl is manipulating a satellite to find Erin. Yes, she is. Driver tells the rest of the crew that Vic and Shawn are expendable. Surprised they asked. 

Paula (Nicole Reddinger), is watching the building with a sniper rifle. In the building, Vic is telling Erin to stay close. Driver calls Erin. He quickly realises that she knows he is not there to help her. He tells her to put Vic on the phone. Driver tells him all the usual bollocks; surrounded, no way out, all communications on lockdown. Vic is unfazed. He is Delta! 

Driver gives him five minutes to bring Erin out. There is an hour of runtime left in the film so…anyhoo, Shawn comes across the fake cleaner. He asks him if he has seen Vic. They both go into the lift. The fake cleaner tries to kill him. Shawn, who was raised by a green beret, fights the professional mercenary. 

They fall out of the lift and Vic beats the mercenary unconscious. Director Phillips goes to visit Walton. He tells him that he has his daughter and he wants him to support some changes in amendments. Back in the college, Vic wants to get to a phone. He leaves Erin and Shawn. He gives Shawn a gun. 

Jade (Jennifer Wenger), the electrics girl, tells one of the team that they are in the lift, heading for the ground. The big lump, Rodriguez (Esteban Cueto) is fooled by the ‘old phones in the lift ruse’ and is overpowered and taken hostage by Vic. Jade calls the driver into the van. She has found out that Vic is a highly decorated green beret.

Driver tells his team, recounting, for all listening, including the kids, his violent and impressive military achievements. Shawn is shocked to find out his father has quite the body count on his resumé. Erin notices that Shawn is bleeding and insist on tending his wounds. 

Meanwhile, Vic has got to the phone and found that communications go no further than the van. Rodriguez takes the opportunity of Vic’s distraction to attack him. After getting thrown around by the much bigger Rodriguez, Vic hits him with a weights plate and kills him. 

As Erin dresses Shawn’s wounds, he tells her about his miserable upbringing and how his mum died, killed in revenge for one of his dad’s missions and how it made Vic pull away from him. Yawn. The fake cleaner, who wants to kill Vic because of the beating he took, goes after the kids. He beats on Shawn a bit and is about to Strangle Erin but is stopped as Shawn points a gun at him. 

Phillips threatens Walton. I’m still not sure if he is pro or anti-guns, it is all very unclear. Erin and Shawn hide in a closet. Jade and her magical satellite, see Vic on the side of the building. The driver tells Paula to shoot him. She cannot see him properly. Driver sends Krieg (Christopher Troy) and Rose (Kelina Rutherford) to get him. 

Paula has a shot and takes it. She tells Driver that he is down. Driver tells Krieg to confirm he is dead. Erin decides to sacrifice herself to save Shawn. She will give herself up. Vic fights Rose and Krieg. He stabs Rose and slaps Krieg with a plank. Erin runs into a security guard. He is part of the crew – there is a lot of them, I have lost count. He punches her to the ground. Shawn, who was following after her, points a gun at the fake guard. 

The guard, seeing how scared Shawn is, warns of the possible insertion to his posterior the gun is likely to make if he does not shoot him. Vic comes around the corner and obliges, shooting the guard dead. Another person turns up. It is Neal. He does not know what is going on. Vic asks if he knows another way out of the building.

Yes, there is a service tunnel. They believe him even though this is the most obvious and blatant, snake-in-the-grass double-cross in cinema, and he tells them there is an old service elevator. They go to the elevator. Vic is holding off another gunman – I have really lost count – and Neal and Erin get in the lift. Shawn goes back to help his dad, leaving Neal to take Erin. The fool! 

Neal delivers Erin to Driver and Jade. Neal asks Driver for payment. He is not a man who has watched a lot of films, obviously, and does realise what happens to rats like him! Driver beats him to death with his cane. 

Driver tells Jade to take care of the rest. So she puts a bomb in the lift and sends it back up. Boom! Driver sends a video of the captive Erin to Walton. Walton messages Phillips to tell him he has done as he asked. Okay…

Vic gets himself and Shawn out of the rubble. Driver is putting Erin in the car as Shawn and Vic get to the exit. Shawn runs to go and save Erin, even as Vic warns him there is a sniper. As Shawn shoots at Driver, Paula trains her gun on him. Somehow, Vic manages to get across the road to where Paula is perched and gets into fisticuffs with her. Paula puts up a far better fight than her two colleagues did earlier almost besting Vic. He knocks her out. 

Driver and the remaining crew leave, taking Erin. Vic jumps onto the roof of the van. Yes, he does. Shawn gets on his bike – the one conveniently parked outside the campus – and gives chase. Vic climbs into the van and throws Paula out, not very gentlemanly at all. 

He fights the fake cleaner again after the other occupant, Babcock (Gene Freeman), gets accidentally shot. The van crashes into a parked car and there is an explosion. That causes Shawn to lose control of his bike. He is uninjured but not for long. Driver shoots him through the shoulder and takes him hostage because…I do not know. 

At the location where Philips is meeting Walton, Driver arrives with the two kids. Vic gets an automatic rifle from the van and flags down Walton. He is there to help. The sign he has written in blood is enough to convince Walton. 

Back in the warehouse – it’s always a warehouse – Phillips is feeling bossy and tells Jade to drown Erin. They should get rid of Shawn as well. Walton arrives at the warehouse. He starts to run. The car blows up and Vic comes out shooting. Vic goes into the warehouse and kills multiple henchmen, all of whom are terrible shots and make no effort not to get shot themselves. 

He comes face to face with Driver. They fight. Shawn manages to overpower his captive. Out on the pier – Erin’s supposed to get drowned remember – Jade and Erin end up fencing. Shawn fights another henchman and stabs him in the neck. He grabs his gun. Vic is looking for an elusive Driver in the warehouse. 

Erin, it turns out, is not a great fencer and is overcome by Jade. Jade decides she is going to kill her with the sabre. As she is about to stab her, Shawn shoots her dead. Walton finds his daughter and Shawn on the pier. Vic and Driver keep fighting. Driver gets blown out of the window. 

Out on the pier, Phillips is about to shoot Walton. Vic comes out and tells him he has three seconds to change his mind. Phillips leaves. Back in his apartment, Phillips is met by a severely burnt Driver. Driver kills him. 

The next day, Shawn is in the hospital recovering. Vic sits by his bed. Erin comes to see him and Vic leaves the two kids alone. As Vic goes into the hospital reception, he is confronted by a man. He looks around and notes that several people are converging on him. Another man drags Olivia into the reception. Vic kicks one of the assailants in the face. The end. 

Final thoughts: The 2nd is hokum and nonsense. The story is convoluted and muddle and the acting is poor from just about everybody on show. Admittedly, the script is wretched and the actors are working with terrible material. Written by Eric Bromberg, James Bromberg and Paul Taegel, with direction by Brian Skiba, The 2nd is a real chore to watch. 

The film’s runtime is only ninety-three minutes but it feels much longer, the lacklustre fight scenes and poor camera work make it almost painful to watch. I suffered the film twice and I am still not sure whether they were for or against the second amendment, the amendment that gives the film its, frankly, stupid title. 

The 2nd is an action film with underwhelming action sequences and a story that goes nowhere. What is even more galling about the action sequences is that there are a lot of them and none of them are good or particularly memorable. 

The 2nd is not good and not worth an hour and a half of anybody’s time. That they left scope for a sequel is hubris in the extreme. Avoid.

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.

Dangerous Lies – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A young married couple are struggling to make ends meet. The wife gets a job working for an eccentric old man and persuades the man to employ her husband to work in the gardens. When the old man dies unexpectedly, he leaves all of his worldly goods to the woman. The couple’s relationship comes under strain as they try to come to terms with their new circumstances.

Is it any good?: with a title like Dangerous Lies this film was was never going to be a masterpiece and so it proves. With a convoluted plot and a laborious, bumbling build-up, Dangerous Lies is a bit of a chore to watch.

Spoiler territory: Katie (Camila Mendes) works in Smile diner supporting both her and her husband, Adam (Jessie T Usher), as he studies. The plan is for him to find a job once he graduates so as she can return to school. As Katie works late shifts, Jessie picks up from the diner most nights. On one such night, the two return to the diner, after Katie’s break, to find that it is being robbed.

Adam, even as Katie protests not wanting him to get involved, decides to intervene. He grabs a heavy frying pan and sneaks up on the assailant, Ray Gaskin (Sean Owen Roberts), and bashes him on the head, preventing the robbery. Gaskin gets arrested. On the same night, a diamond heist has also happened.

Four months later and Katie is working as a caregiver for an elderly man, Leonard (Elliot Gould). Leonard like Katie and happily chats to her as she brings him his daily medication. Back at home, Katie is telling Adam about how stressed she is feeling due to their financial situation. She also feels that Adam is not taking their situation seriously enough.

Katie tells Adam that, even four months on, she is still unhappy about him having intervened during the diner robbery, scared that she was going to lose him. She goes for a drive and ends up at Leonard’s house. He finds her on the porch, having heard footsteps and invites her in. She tells him about her financial woes. He asks her why she never mentioned it before but she tells him that it is not his problem. She asks him if Adam can do some work for him.

The next day, Adam joins her at the house, coming to work on the gardens. There is a knock at the door later in the day and Katie goes and answers it. Mickey Hayden (Cam Gigandet) is at the door. He tells her he is an estate agent and he has clients who have fallen in love with the house. Katie tells him that she doubts the house is for sale but takes his card anyway.

The couple keep working, hoping to clear their debts and even looking for a medical school for Katie to attend. Katie’s employer, George Calvern (Michael P Northey), comes to check up on her. She tells Adam that he has to stay out of sight as Calvern would not condone a husband and wife working together.

Later in the day, Leonard gives Katie her wage by cheque. She and Adam go to the bank to deposit the cheque. Katie is reluctant to do so when she sees that Leonard has given her seven thousand dollars. Adam persuades her to pay the cheque into the account and discuss it with Leonard the next day. From another car, Hayden is watching them.

Adam asks about Leonard. Katie tells him that he has no one, no relatives or spouse. They return to the house the next day and Katie goes to give Leonard his medication. Not finding him in his bedroom, she goes up to the attic, knowing that he likes to listen to music up there. She finds him dead in his chair.

Katie tells Adam and he comes and checks him. He finds a key next to the body. It opens a trunk that is in the attic. He finds various newspaper clippings and photographs of a young Leonard with a woman. The clippings seem to indicate that Leonard had not perhaps been truthful when talking about his life. Katie wants to call the police.

Adam pulls up the shelf and finds the rest of the trunk is full of money. He and Katie discuss what to do. Katie wants to report everything to the police, Adam persuades her that they would just make the money disappear. They call the police.

Detective Chesler (Sasha Alexander) interview the couple. She asks about their working relationship with Leonard and how long they have worked there. She asks about Leonard’s health. Katie tells the detective that Leonard wanted to be cremated. The next morning, Katie goes to see Calvern to get herself listed for work again. Adam asks her why is she going to see him, thinking about the money, she tells him that is what they both should be doing.

Adam sees that they still have the keys to Leonard’s house. Katie is told by Calvern that she cannot work whilst she is under investigation. Adam gets a call from an interview he went to. Though it went well, he did not get selected for a second interview. He returns to the house and counts the money.

Whilst in the house, he hears footsteps. He goes to check out the noise and gets knocked unconscious. He is woken by his phone, Katie calling. She meets at the house and is not too happy that the is there. Did he see who attacked him? No, he was hit from behind. He tells her there is nearly one hundred grand in the trunk.

They take the money and put it in a safety deposit box in the bank. They return to the car. They are still being watched by Hayden. Katie gets a call from the detective. They go to the station to see her. She asks the same questions she asked before, asking about Leonard’s relatives and wishes. She asks again if she is sure Leonard wanted to be cremated. Katie says yes. She tells the detective that they will take care of the funeral expense.

They are the only people at his funeral. At the funeral, she is approached by Julia (Jamie Chung). Julia tells her that she is Leonard’s attorney. She goes back to the house with Adam and Katie and tells them about Leonard’s will. Leonard left everything to Katie. Julia tells Katie that she needs an attorney but Leonard had paid her retainer already so she would be happy to help her navigate the will.

As she leaves, Julia is seen out by Katie. Julia questions whether both Katie and Adam will be on the same page when it comes to money. At dinner, Adam wants to spend money, wanting to go on holiday and be flash. Katie cautions against frivolousness, wanting to clear their debts. Adam wants to get a new car.

Having inherited Leonard’s house, they prepare to move in. Adam wants to leave all of their old possessions behind, happy to just buy new ones. Adam gets a call. Someone wants to talk to him about the diner incident. Adam goes to the police station and is seen by Chelser. She tells him that no one from the station called but the man who did the robbery, Gaskin, got killed in prison.

Hayden tries to persuade Katie to sell the house again, knowing that Leonard is dead. She kicks him off of the property. She discusses the meeting with Hayden with Adam. He says he is just after his commission. Katie goes to the bathroom and sees that Adam has purchased a new watch and it looks expensive. He tells her it is a cheap rip-off because his old watch stopped.

Chelser goes to the diner where the incident happened. She goes and sees Katie and Adam at their old place. They are preparing to move into Leonard’s. Chelser wants to speak to Adam but as he is not there, she asks Katie about the incident in the diner. She asks how often Adam picked her up from work. A few times a week she tells the detective.

Julia drops Katie home and Adam wants to know what they were talking about. Katie tells him that she wanted to see her. They disagree about information sharing as Katie did not know that he had spoken to Chelser. Adam apologises and tells her he thinks he is being followed. She asks him if he went to the bank. He did. She tells him about Hayden coming to visit. They both think he probably knows about the money.

Chelser investigates Adam and Katie. Katie wants to find out if the money could be problematic having been warned by Julia that they could lose everything if they are found to have done some wrongdoing. Chelser goes and sees Calvern. He did not know that Adam was working at the house. She shows him a copy of the cheque Katie received from Leonard.

In the house, Katie is in the garage. In the attic of the garage, she finds a corpse and a bag full of diamonds. She tells Adam. Katie thinks that it is the old gardener. They find diamonds on him. Calvern comes to the house but Katie turns him away. In the evening, Katie checks over the record she kept of Leonard’s medication. One of the bottles is empty.

Adam wants to keep the diamonds and get rid of the body. Katie wants to call the police. Adam stops her. What will they do about the money? Katie does not care about the money or the house. Adam does not want to be poor again. He tells her he will take care of the body. Later in the night, Adam catches Calvern sneaking into the house. He scares him causing him to fall down the stairs and die.

Chelser thinks that Adam is tricking Katie and that Gaskin, the robber, worked in the college Adam went. Katie goes to see Julia. She talks over her concerns and Chelser’s intimations. Katie goes to the bank. All the money is gone. She tells Julia that they found diamonds. Julia tells her that Adam is probably going to disappear and leave Katie to deal with the fallout. She returns home and finds Adam packing.

Chelser is called to the body that Adam dumped. He is identified as the former gardener at Leonard’s house, which is why Chelser is told about him. Adam tells Katie he checked up on Hayden. He is not a real estate agent, he is an ex-con and his last job was a diamond heist. He had an accomplice on the job, the corpse they found.

Katie wants to call the police but Adam thinks they should just run. He goes to change his clothes and tells her to get her things. Katie calls Julia and tells her that Adam is home but her call is interrupted by Hayden. He wants the diamonds. She does not know where the diamonds are. He tells her to call Adam. He takes her as a hostage as Adam emerges with a gun. Hayden discards Katie and shoots Adam who falls to the ground. As he goes to check he is dead, Adam shoots him dead.

Katie runs over to a dying Adam. He tells her that the diamonds are in the garden. Julia turns up at the house. She tells Julia they need to find the diamonds. Katie tells Julia that Hayden killed Leonard with an overdose. Julia talks too much, revealing more than she should know and Katie realises that she is after the diamonds.

Katie tells her she does not know where the diamonds are as Adam hid them. Julia goes to kill Katie but is stopped by Chelser. She tries to shoot Chelser and is killed. Four months later, a pregnant Katie is gardening. Chelser comes to see her. She tells her the case is closed and Adam’s name has been kept out of it. Chelser asks about the diamonds. Katie tells her she has no idea where they are. The detective leaves. Katie switches on the garden sprinklers and the diamonds sparkle in the dirt. The end.

Dangerous Lies – a lazy, uninspired, title for a film – is rubbish. It looks quite nice and the acting is good enough with literally every actor on show having been in far better fare but it is not good. The story is confusing and plodding, none of the red herrings work or makes sense, the timeline does not even line up.

Mendes’ Katie is set up as the moral compass of the film but, because she is in love, makes stupid decisions. Usher’s Adam’s love of money is another red herring, as is Gould’s Leonard’s mysterious past which is never explained beyond a few old newspaper clippings.

Alexander’s detective Chelser spends all her time trying to prove the married couple are dodgy but then decides it is just Adam who is dodgy. What the initial failed robbery has to do with the rest of the film is anybody’s guess, though they shoehorn in a weak connection somehow.

The fact that Adam risked his life to save a diner but then turns into a greedy idiot the moment he sees money just did not add up. Northey’s Calvern dies just to increase the body count and Chung’s Julia goes full Scooby Do exposition at the end as she explains the whole convoluted mess.

Written by David Golden and directed by Michael Scott, Dangerous Lies is so poor that it feels way longer than its ninety-six-minute runtime. Golden’s script has no surprises or originality. The story takes almost an hour to get going and by then one is beyond caring.

The film looks nice and is competently directed except for the overwrought music choice which is constantly foreboding and adds nothing to the near absent atmosphere. Dangerous Lies is an hour and a half of your life that you will not get back. Give it a miss.

Hell Fest – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Natalie goes to meet up with her best friend from high school, Brooke, having been away at college. Another old high school colleague, Taylor, is living with Brooke. The three young women, plus their partners and would-be partners, go to Hell Fest, a horror-themed amusement park.

At the park, Natalie sees one of the patrons get killed by a masked man, who she and the rest of the group thought was one of the park’s actors. When the same masked man begins to stalk them, the group realise that their lives are in danger.

Is it any good?: It is not bad, though neither is it good. Not really for horror aficionados, but for those who enjoy a mild scare with a straightforward, madman-after-frightened-teens vibe, reminiscent of the early nineties, one could definitely do worse than Hell Fest.

Spoiler territory: A travelling theme park, Hell Fest, moves around North America during the Halloween season. When visiting Orange Grove, a group of three young women visits one of the attractions. When one of the women gets separated from the group, she finds herself confronted by a masked man known as The Other (Stephen Conroy).

She recognises him from earlier in the evening. He had been following her. He stabs her to death and hangs her up amongst the fake corpses in the house of horrors.

Some years have passed and Natalie (Amy Forsyth), is visiting her best friend from high school, Brooke (Reign Edwards). Living with Brooke is Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus). Taylor, an old classmate of both the girls, is not someone who Natalie is overly excited to see.

Taylor ribs Natalie for being so uptight. Natalie points out that, as she is on a scholarship, she needs to maintain her grades. Taylor insists that October, the month they are in, is for fun and that they are going to have fun that coming night, especially as Gavin (Roby Attal), a young man who has a crush on Natalie, is coming out with them.

Brooke tells Natalie about Hell Fest, the travelling theme park, and how Gavin has gotten them all VIP tickets for it. Natalie is not sure. Brooke tells her that Gavin is itching to see her. Brooke’s boyfriend, Quinn (Christian James), comes into the room. He ready to go to Hell Fest.

The girls, along with Quinn, go to Hell Fest. Inside the park, they meet up with Gavin and Asher (Matt Mercurio), Taylor’s boyfriend. Gavin and Natalie quickly get together. The group starts drinking and decides to go to the Deadlands, a part of the theme park that is meant to be one of the scarier parts because the actors can and do touch people.

To get to the scariest part, Hell, they have to go through Deadlands. The group persuades Natalie to go into the Deadlands. The Other comes into the theme park. He spots a girl and decides that she is going to be his first victim. He steals an ice pick from one of the vendors in the park and follows her.

The group make their way to the Deadlands, getting scared witless by actors along the way. They go into one of the many haunted houses that populate the park. The girls and the boys split into two groups. As the girls walk through the house, Natalie works out the timings of the scares. The girl that The Other decided to pursue comes running into the house.

She is petrified and hides under a table. The girls think that it is all an act, Natalie even pointing out where the girl is hiding when The Other stands in front of her with the ice pick. He goes and grabs the girl. Taylor and Brooke leave, not liking the act. Natalie watches the girl struggling and, still believing it all to be part of the show, tells The Other to hurry up and kill her.

He stabs the girl killing her. Natalie is unsure of what she has witnessed and leaves the house. Outside, back with the other girls, The Other watches her. He indicates to her not to tell anyone.

They meet up with the boys again. Natalie sees The Other watching from another part of the park. She says that he is following them, but the rest of the group assures her it is just an actor being over-zealous.

Gavin tries to win a toy for Natalie but is absolutely terrible at every game, failing miserably. Gavin and Natalie hang out together, chatting and bonding over a pretzel. They go into a photo booth and take photos and kiss. Whilst they are in the booth, The Other comes and steals the photos. Brooke sees him and tries to stop him, chasing after him but he disappears.

The group is now determined to head into Deadlands. Gavin tells them to go ahead. Natalie is reluctant, but he assures her that he will catch up. He tells Quinn he wants to get her a toy. He goes back to the vendor where he tried to win the toy, but the guy working there does not want to help him as it would jeopardise his job.

Back at the entrance to Deadlands, the rest of the group are signing waivers. Natalie asks why they have to sign a waiver. Taylor explains it is because the actors can touch people. Gavin, still trying to get a toy for Natalie, sees an employee leaving a room laden with the toys. He sneaks into the room to get a toy. In the room, he is confronted by The Other.

Gavin thinks it is just the actor trying to scare him again. He asks him for the photos. The Other stays silent. Gavin goes to walk away and is tripped up by him. The Other hits him with a mallet. As Gavin tries to get his breath, The Other smashes his head with the mallet, killing him.

The rest of the group go into the Deadlands. The way into the Deadlands is by a train ride through another haunted house. In the house they stop the cars, making the patrons believe there is a fault.

An actor with the same mask as The Other gets into Natalie’s car. She is freaking out, screaming, and then they exit the house. They are in the Deadlands. Natalie sees several actors in the same mask as The Other.

Natalie wants to wait for Gavin. Asher tells her that he went to try and get her a toy but as he is so awful at all the games, he would probably be a while. The boys and girls split up again, going into different houses. The boys get separated and Asher is left in the house. Natalie sees The Other watching her behind plexiglass.

Asher tries to find his way out of the house and is caught by The Other. He gets stabbed through the eye and killed. Natalie goes to the bathroom and texts Gavin. She hears the message ping in the bathroom. Underneath the stall, she sees The Other’s boots. She escapes from the bathroom and calls security but cannot convince them that there is an issue.

Brooke and Natalie go to Quinn. Brooke tells him that they have to leave. He tells her that Taylor has decided to volunteer for one of the acts. Up on the stage, Taylor is sentenced to death for committing sins.

Natalie notices that the executioner has on the same shoes as The Other and tries to stop the act. She is restrained by security. The act goes ahead, Taylor pretending to lose her head.

The curtain closes and Taylor asks the executioner to release her. He makes the restraints tighter and tries to cut her head off with the guillotine. It does not work properly. As he tries to fix it, Taylor escapes.

The Other comes after her. He catches up with her and stabs her to death. Quinn sees what is happening and is immediately killed, stabbed, as he tries to intervene.

Brooke and Natalie see their friends die and the whole park is panicking now. The Other decides to go after the two girls. They run into the Hell house. The Other follows them in there. He finds an axe.

As the girls try to escape, Brooke starts to panic and is calmed by Natalie. She tells her where the room’s triggers are and they avoid them as they try to get out of the house.

The Other locks the entrance and the girls are forced to arm themselves when they realise they cannot get out the way they came in. The Other comes out of the shadows and injures Brooke with the axe. Natalie hits him and they escape, going and hiding in another room.

The Other goes looking for them and is distracted in a room of masks. Natalie attacks, allowing Brooke to escape. The Other knocks Natalie to the floor and goes after Brooke. A frightened Brooke forgets about the house’s triggers and tries to get out of the house. The Other finds her but is stabbed by Natalie before he can kill her.

The police come into the house and rescue the girls. The Other disappears. The Other returns home and removes his mask, putting it into a cupboard full of various masks. He is greeted by his young daughter. The end.

Hell Fest, with a screenplay by Seth M. Sherwood and Blair Butler from a story by William Penick, Christopher Sey and Stephen Susco, with an additional screenplay credit for Akela Cooper and directed by Gregory Plotkin, is a horror film by numbers, ticking boxes whilst not really pushing any boundaries horror-wise.

The horror is, to be honest, quite tame, the death of Mercurio’s Asher being the only truly horrible death in the film. Even so, it is not exactly a new or even inventive death. For a horror film, there is also very little blood.

The jump-scares, a staple of at least ninety-nine per cent of horror films, are weakened considerably because the film is set in a horror theme park where jump-scares are de rigueur, happening almost every thirty seconds. The acting is passable rather than good or bad, the story or script not really giving the cast a great deal to work with.

Because of the film’s setting and the makers’ misguided decision to have multiple horror rooms, in a seemingly vast theme park, the film has a spread out feeling that does not help the tension.

Conroy’s The Other’s decision to randomly kill in a busy theme park does not really work, especially as the fest is supposedly very popular, attracting thousands of people.

That he had already killed someone at exactly the same travelling theme park a few years before did not, unbelievably, deter the revellers. Obviously, park licenses are easier to come by in the States.

At eighty-nine minutes long, Hell Fest is not a long film, it is just a slightly underwhelming one. Plotkin’s directing is okay, nothing of note, but not horrible either. That the film has six writing credits is a little odd as there really is not six persons worth of creativity in the story or script.

Hell Fest is not terrible, but it is not good either, it is just sort of ‘meh.’ Watch it if you have run out of horror films to watch.

Fanatic – review (Netflix)

Brief Synopsis: Rap superstar, Dom D takes advantage of his status and fandom, inviting voluptuous fan, Lexi, to his after-party. Dom D and Lexi hook up at the party. Five years later, Lexi hears Dom D is back in town. She goes to see him but is prevented from doing so by his security. Lexi kidnaps him.

Is it any good?: No. Fanatic is Misery with a bit of La Doña channelled through a hip hop veneer and bad amateur dramatics. It is badly written, acted and directed. The five-point-four score on IMDB flatters it.

Spoiler territory: Dom D (Hosea Chanchez), whilst performing a show in Washington DC, spots the highly attractive and voluptuous Lexi (Denyce Lawton) from the stage. He tells his security guy, Quan (Shawne Merriman) to go and invite her to the after-party. Lexi, who had gone to the show on her own, is caught outside by Quan. He tells her Dom D wants to meet her.

Lexi comes to the party, but is uncomfortable and leaves. Dom catches up with her and sweet talks her into spending the night with him. She succumbs to his charms. Five years later and Dom D’s life is very different. He is still in the music business and a bigger star than ever, but he is now married and settled down with Zoe (Michelle Mitchenor).

He returns to DC to do another show. Lexi, who is working as a nurse, hears about the show. She dolls up, and goes to the after-party, hoping to reconnect with Dom. She tries to get his attention at the party but is intercepted by Quan, who turns her away. A furious Lexi goes to the bathroom. She hides in a cubicle as she hears women coming into the bathroom.

Amy (Shantelle Lee Cuevas) and a friend come into the bathroom. They are chatting about the party. The friend wants to leave, but Amy is determined to get with Dom. the friend leaves Amy alone in the bathroom, fixing her makeup. Lexi comes out of the bathroom and attacks her, knocking her to the ground.

Dom, who is fulfilling a contractual obligation to be in the club, wants to leave and go home to Zoe. Sosa (Sticky Fingaz), Dom’s manager, tries to persuade him to stay, telling him how much money they are making with the club appearance. Dom insists on leaving. He and Sosa leave the club, Quan following behind.

Sosa sends Quan back into the club to pick up some drinks. Dom gets into the car as Sosa has a cigarette. Lexi knocks Sosa out and maces Dom. she then injects a sedative into him and kidnaps him. A confused Dom wakes up to find Lexi sitting atop him, telling him that they are meant to be together.

Zoe and Quan are at the hospital where a comatose Sosa has been taken. Officer Hardaway (Darius McCrary) tells Zoe that Dom has not been seen since Sosa was attacked and that he is the chief suspect. Zoe is convinced that he is missing.

Lexi tortures a less than compliant Dom. She sedates him again and goes to work at the hospital. At the hospital, she sees Quan and Lexi waiting for Sosa. Lexi kills Sosa. A still restrained Dom remembers how he met Zoe.

Zoe investigates her husband’s disappearance, going back to the club and speaking to the owner, Sylvester (Miguel A. Núñez Jr). He points her in the direction of Amy. Meanwhile, a chained up Dom tries to strangle Lexi. She stabs him and breaks his leg with a baseball bat. She sedates him again.

Zoe goes to see Amy. Amy tells her she was attacked by Lexi who she went to high school with. She says that Lexi was always a little crazy and stalker-ish. Lexi has put Dom into a wheelchair. He is still restrained. Zoe asks Quan to get her a gun. She uses her contacts as a journalist to investigate Lexi.

A deranged Lexi is trying to convince Dom that he and she should be together. She looks through his lyrics notebook and becomes enraged when she sees lyrics dedicated to his wife. She works out his pin number and gets into his phone, checking out photos of Zoe. She rages at Dom about marrying Zoe, saying it should have been her.

At least we in focus right?


Zoe speaks to Officer Hardaway, who tells her once again that Dom is the chief suspect in regards to Sosa’s death. Dom lies to Lexi, telling her he remembers her. She questions him, wanting him to recall the details of their encounter. She realises he is lying and punishes him by cutting him.

Quan calls Zoe. He has received a text from Dom saying he is heading back to LA. Zoe has not heard anything. Does Quan believe that Dom would leave without her? Quan does not. He turns around.

Zoe’s friend, Timothy (Zac Titus), has news about Lexi. It turns out that she has a very troubled past. Lexi has been in mental institutions and had other issues. Lexi tells Dom that she wants them to be together. Dom tells her he loves his wife.

Zoe goes to see Lexi at her house. Lexi threatens her with a gun. Zoe receives a text from Dom’s phone. It tells her their relationship is not working out, and that he has gone back to LA. Zoe is not convinced. Zoe is back telling Dom she wants to have his baby.

Zoe returns her hotel room and is met by Officer Hardaway. He has received a complaint from Lexi. He tells her she should go back to LA. Zoe tells him that she is sure that Lexi has something to do with Dom’s disappearance. Hardaway tells her he can make life very difficult for her.

Zoe receives another call from Timothy. Had she looked at the information that he had sent? She had not had time. Timothy tells her about Lexi. Her father died of a stroke and she had a miscarriage. Her father did not know she was pregnant, because she had suffered a gang-rape and had not told him.

The entire incident had been recorded and released on the dark web. She had also been hospitalised several times for miscarriages. Lexi meanwhile, is preparing a bath to baptise Dom in. Zoe returns to Lexi’s home searching for Dom. She watches the tape of Lexi’s rape. Hardaway comes and catches her.

It turns out he was one of the rapists, and his guilt from that act, as well as his misguided love for her, has him helping Lexi in her warped life. Hardaway lays out his entire complicity in the snatching of Dom, and is helping her cover her tracks. Zoe records the conversation. She sends the conversation to her editor.

Hardaway approaches Zoe. She attacks him, knocking him to the ground. Both reach for their guns. Lexi has put a semiconscious Dom into the tub and hears the gunshot. She goes to investigate. Quan sees her leave the basement and goes to rescue Dom. Lexi finds Hardaway dead and tries to shoot Zoe.

Zoe confronts Lexi and tries to talk her down, telling her she understands her suffering. They fight and Lexi’s gun goes off. Lexi is shot. They call emergency services and Dom is taken to the hospital along with a still alive Lexi.

Some months later, Zoe is pregnant and receives a call from Dom, who is away on tour. She receives another call. It is Lexi, she says she is ‘wifey’ and a door opens behind Zoe. The end.

Fanatic is terrible. With a convoluted story by Allen Blackwell and script by Camara Davis and Paul D Hannah, the film takes the lazy stalker trope and tries to hide behind a soap-opera-esque, gang-rape storyline. It is a total mess.

Poorly directed by Keith L. Smith, it is shocking that Smith, a cinematographer of some one hundred and twenty credits, should have such poor shot selection. There are extreme close-ups that simply do not work, random off-kilter shots of Lexi and lazy tripod shots when movement would have enhanced the shot.

It is the story that is really poor though. Fanatic is a wretched piece of cinema, irritatingly relying on well-worn stereotypes to try and inject some sort of drama into proceedings. The ‘angry’ black woman in film, whether it be in comedy or drama, is such an overused stereotype it is becoming insulting.

Though Mitchenor’s Zoe was shown as a positive black woman, the rest of the film is so bad it hardly matters. Lawton’s Lexi, who was batshit crazy, waited five years to exorcise her crazy on Chanchez’s Dom. Five years? What was she doing? Hanging out in mental institutions? Her total madness did not stop her from getting a highly responsible job.

As is the case with a lot of these cinema/made-for-TV hybrids, the music is cranked up to eleven, and as subtle as a shit stain in white pants. The actors try to work with the clunky script, but it is just too woeful and proves beyond the cast’s herculean efforts.

Just whose idea it was to throw in McCrary’s Hardaway as the belated catalyst to Lexi’s craziness, I do not know, but it was not a good one. It just made a bad story worse, not to mention the need for murder mystery-like exposition scene for his involvement towards the end.

The horror film ending of Lexi still being around is exasperating and another reason to avoid this film. At ninety-one minutes long, Fanatic is not lengthy, but it is still too long for any right-minded person to sit through. With an estimated budget of one point two million dollars, it is a cheap production and it shows.

Fanatic is a cheap film and a bad film. Avoid.

Sextuplets – review (Netflix)

Brief Synopsis: Alan’s wife, Marie, is expecting their first child and her family history is extensive and large. Alan does not know his family, having been given up for adoption as a baby.

Family is very important to Marie, so, after getting his adoption records through a favour from his father-in-law, he goes in search of his maternal family. He finds out he has five siblings.

Is it any good?Sextuplets is basically a showcase for Marlon Wayans comedic talents, with him taking on multiple roles in the film. Not a film to be troubling any of the Oscar contenders, Sextuplets is, nonetheless, amusing.

Spoiler territory: Alan (Marlon Wayans) and Marie (Bresha Webb) are expecting their first child. They go to see the doctor Greenberg (Grace Junot) for a final check-up before the birth. The doctor asks about their family history and health. Marie’s family history is easy to trace, as she knows her parents and their lineage.

Alan was given up for adoption as a baby and all his attempts to find his birth parents or family have been futile. Marie tells him to ask her father, Leland (Glynn Turman), to help him find his family. Alan is reluctant to go to his father-in-law. Leland does not like Alan, feeling he is not good enough for his daughter.

At a family gathering put on by Marie’s mother, Janet (Debbi Morgan), to celebrate the impending addition to the family, Alan approaches Leland to ask about getting his adoption records released. Leland asks him if he wants a favour. Alan reluctantly acknowledges that he does. An hour later, Alan has his adoption records.

He finds his mother’s name, Lynette Spellman (Wayans) and address. He leaves his pregnant wife to go and meet her. When he gets to the address, he is met by an obstinate Russell (Wayans) who does not initially even let him into the house. He eventually lets him into the house, after Alan explains that Lynette is his mother.

Russell, an obese, cereal-eating, television-show obsessed homebody is Alan’s brother, not that he is especially happy about finding out he has a sibling. Not only is he his brother, but they are twins.

Alan asks him about their mother. Russell tells him she died. Crushed by a car. Alan is unhappy at the news that his mother has died before he got the chance to meet her. Russell gives Alan a gobstopper. Alan bites into it, breaking a tooth and accidentally spitting it out.

The tooth rolls into a small grill. As Alan tries to retrieve it, he finds a metal box with records and papers. He finds that he is not a twin. He is actually one of six. He and Russell hit the road to track down the other four siblings.

Do we even look related?


The first sibling they go to is Dawn (Wayans), the only female of the sextuplet. Dawn is in prison for assault. Dawn is also an exotic dancer. She asks Alan to pay her bail of $10,000. She joins Alan and Russell on the road.

Back in the city, another sibling, Ethan (Wayans) goes to Alan’s workplace and pretends to be him looking to get a payday. Alan’s boss, Linda (Molly Shannon), likes the new, more aggressive Alan. She likes him a lot. They have a closed-door meeting.

Back on the road, Alan had stopped at a rest stop to pick up some provisions, with the siblings on their way to see Baby Pete (Wayans), another sibling who is in hospital, close to death. Dawn tries to solicit some business from a couple of guys at the rest stop. Alan interrupts, apologising to the men.

As they return to their vehicle, Dawn accidentally breaks the wing mirror of the same guys’ vehicle. They threaten Alan. Dawn steps in to warn them that they do not want to fight with her. One of the men punches Alan, breaking his nose. Dawn hands out an ass-whooping on both of the men.

Meanwhile, Ethan is still trying to be Alan. He sneaks into his home looking for money. He restyles himself, looking like Alan. Marie comes in and thinks he is Alan, even though he speaks differently and has a gold-capped tooth. She tells him they have to go to the breastfeeding class. Ethan is only too happy to attend.

At the hospital, Alan is told he will need surgery to reset his nose. The other siblings are seeing Baby Pete. Alan comes to meet his fourth sibling. He is somewhat surprised to hear that he has been elected as the person to give his kidney to his dying sibling.

Alan does not want to help. When the doctor brings the release forms for Alan to sign, so as he can have his nose reset, Baby Pete secretly swaps the forms, getting him to sign for the transplant.

Ethan’s over-enthusiasm in the breastfeeding class alerts Marie to the fact that he is not Alan. She threatens to call the police, Ethan comes clean. He tells her that he used to have a legitimate business, but the landlord pulled the lease from under him. Marie helps him out.

Alan gets the surgery. Ethan paints the nursery as a thank you for Marie. She loves it. Alan wakes up to find his kidney gone. Baby Pete has left the hospital and the country. A furious and deflated Alan decides he is going home.

Russell tries to stop him and Alan begins to rant at him. As Alan rants, both men get snatched. They are taken to Russell’s house. The person who had them snatched turns out to be Jasper (Wayans), the sixth sibling.

You don’t wanna mess with me…!


Jasper works for a secret government organisation and because of Alan’s wife persistence in searching for him, Jasper felt they were drawing too much attention to him. Jasper wants to kill them, but Alan buys them time by telling him that Russell is a television addict. Jasper wants to know what his favourite show is. Russell tells him The Rockford Files.

Russell boasts how he has rejected all offers for a brochure he owns from one particular fan of the show. Jasper is that fan. Jasper is about to kill them both when the lights go on. Lynette comes in asking Russell who the people are. Alan realises that his mother is actually alive. She says she was too poor to keep the children, as she was a single parent.

Alan gets a call from Marie. Her water has broken and he needs to get to the hospital. Jasper lends them his car and Russell drives. It is the same car that Jim Rockford drove. They hurtle to the hospital, attracting the police on the way. Alan gets to Marie, telling her that the police are after him for speeding.

Ethan, who had taken Marie to the hospital, swaps clothing with Alan to take the rap for him. Three months after the birth, Alan and Marie have the families around to celebrate the baby’s birth. Dawn warns Leland not to give her brother a hard time. Leland asks Alan to tell her to back off as a favour. The extended family get together for a photo. The end.

Sextuplets is enjoyable nonsense. The silly story by Rick Alvarez, Mike Glock and Wayans is basically just a vehicle for Wayans talents. Admittedly, Wayans is good in the multiple roles he takes on, each sibling ably distinguished not only through makeup but also through their characteristics and actions.

Though the story is just a vehicle for the comedy, there are some clever touches, such as Alan breaking his tooth on a gobstopper allowing Ethan later in the story to pass himself off as his sibling, Marie thinking he has capped the broken tooth with gold. There is also Alan getting his nose broken and needing to sign for the surgery, which allows Baby Pete to dupe him into surgery for his own ends.

If you like Wayans comedy, the likes of Scary Movie and White Chicks, you will probably find Sextuplets amusing. If such comedy leaves you cold, this is one you will want to avoid. Directed by Michael Tiddes, it bumps through its 97-minute runtime painlessly, with Wayans likability helping to make the film watchable.

Sextuplets is not a must watch by any means, but if you feel like a brainless chuckle, you could do worse.

My Teacher, My Obsession – review (Netflix)

English teacher Chris Sumner (Rusty Joiner) and his daughter, Riley (Laura Bilgeri), move to a new town after Chris splits with Riley’s mother due to her having an affair. Riley, a bit of a loner, meets Kyla (Lucy Loken), another student who is also a loner, given to taking photos around the school campus.

Kyla sees Chris on his first day and takes a photo of him. Chris is an attractive man, something noted by Tricia (Alexandra DeBerry), the resident hot, popular girl at school. Kyla befriends Riley, even though she is besotted with her father. Kyla’s mother, Jess (Jana Lee Hamblin), begins to see a new man. It turns out to be Chris.

Kyla sees Tricia befriending Riley and gets jealous, warning her not to hang out with Tricia. Tricia tells Riley that Kyla is the bad one. Chris comes to take Jess out for a date. Kyla sabotages her mother’s date with Chris by spilling water on his clothes and suggesting that they have the date in the house.

Back at school, Kyla, having heard that Riley was hanging out with Tricia from her father, ignores Riley. Riley tries to talk to her but Kyla refuses. Kyla threatens Tricia. Her obsession with Chris is getting worse. She frames Tricia for bullying by planting pictures of herself in her locker, making people believe Tricia did it. She also steals Tricia’s mobile phone, sending sexual texts to Chris. Tricia gets expelled.

Riley gets her mother to look at Chris’ phone so as she can see the texts from Tricia’s phone. Jess splits up with Chris. Kyla immediately begins to seduce Chris. Kyla persuades Riley to have an eighteenth birthday party. At the party, Kyla seduces Chris in the bedroom. Riley walks in on them and is furious. Kyla’s goes up a level as she realises that Chris sees his daughter as more important than her.

How you like me now?

Riley tells Jess about her father and Kyla. Kyla tells her mother that she is jealous and that Chris is hers and they are in love. Chris tries to tell Kyla that they cannot work. She uses Tricia to get to him, framing her once again, this time for assault, breaking her own finger to make the attack look convincing. Tricia gets arrested.

In the hospital, Jess tells Kyla that she must not see Chris anymore. Riley tells her that her dad is going to stay away from her. Kyla believes that Chris still wants her, even as he tells her he has no interest in her. Chris tells her he is going to leave the school, as he realises her obsession is delusional. Kyla grabs a scalpel and leaves the hospital.

At the school, Kyla stabs Riley, telling her that Chris cannot have both of them in his life. She finds Chris in his office and threatens him with the scalpel, telling him that they can start a new family. He fights her off of him. She kicks out at him and he is knocked unconscious. A janitor, hearing the commotion, comes to check the office.

Kyla cuts his throat. She chases a still alive but bleeding Riley through the school corridors. They fight in the photography darkroom and Riley knocks her unconscious. The police and ambulance services turn up and take them all away.

Sometime later, Riley and Chris have moved again. Riley is going to college and Chris is about to start in a new post. As Riley drives off, Kyla pops out of the shadows. The end.

I want to shag your dad.

My Teacher, My Obsession is so much hokum. Obviously, with a title that bad, it was never going to be a masterwork or even passably good, but the filmmakers really did not even try to pretend they were making a good film.

Using the old “obsessive, stalker female” trope made famous by far better films—Play Misty For Me, Fatal Attraction, MiseryMy Teacher, My Obsession is so lazy that it is laughable. Loken’s Kyla does not even bother to begin as an even mildly normal student, introduced as a photo-snapping loner from the outset.

The moment she claps eyes on Joiner’s Chris, she is besotted. How her own mother seems to have no idea that her daughter is so mentally unstable is a little bit of a worry. Bilgeri’s Riley not noticing that Kyla seemed to have an unhealthy attraction to her father, even though Kyla was drooling every time she saw the man, is ridiculous.

Kyla’s genius—or the entire town’s stupidity—gets Tricia expelled and arrested, with nary a finger pointed in the direction of the crazed Kyla. Jess, prompted by her loony daughter, immediately thinks the worst of Chris just on the strength of a few texts.

Truth be told, all the glaring plot holes are not really an issue; the film and story, such as it is, is not aiming for coherence or even to make sense. Written by Patrick Robert Young, who I assume was drunk, and directed by Damian Romay, My Teacher, My Obsession, is an obsessive thriller by numbers, ticking boxes whilst bringing nothing at all new to the genre.

The acting is okay, with DeBerry’s Tricia probably being the best performance, which is saying a lot as she is on the screen for less than ten minutes. The rest of the actors are not bad, though they do seem to be acting, making their performances less appealing.

The climax of the film is rushed and makes a film that was already poor even worse, the script, which had not been particularly notable up until that point, taking a definite downturn in quality as Kyla goes fully homicidal crazy.

My Teacher, My Obsession is watchable for all of the wrong reasons. It will leave you incredulous at how bad it is, like a fake soap opera in a sitcom. If you are a fan of bad movies, you may enjoy My Teacher, My Obsession; otherwise, avoid.

We Belong Together – review (Netflix​)

Tracy (Draya Michele) is released from incarceration. She decides to enroll in college. Thomas Lewis is a recovering alcoholic who is trying to get his life together after a divorce from his ex-wife, Megan (Elise Neal). Because of his alcoholism, Megan got custody of their daughter, Brittany (Cassidey Fralin), who he has not been allowed to see whilst recovering.

Thomas is a professor of Greek mythology, and Tracy decides to take his class. In the first class, the students are introduced to Leslie (Jessica Vanessa DeLeon) a teaching assistant to Thomas, who has taken the class before. Tracy focuses on Leslie. Tracy bumps into Thomas outside of the class. She tells him that she is looking for a job. He hooks her up with a contact in a steak restaurant he knows.

The next day, Tracy comes in with a new hairstyle. It is the same as Leslie’s. Tracy catches up with Thomas after the class. She got the job thanks to his contact, and just wanted to thank him. While he is speaking to her, Leslie comes and interrupts. She tells Thomas she is going to be working late at the college.

Alone in the college, Leslie gets attacked by a shadowy figure, strangled, and thrown off of a balcony. The next day the class is cancelled due to Leslie’s murder. A couple of homicide detectives, Daily (Brian White) and Hanks (Alan Miller), come into the class to ask about the murder. They have CCTV photos of the suspect.

Tracy comes to see Thomas. She tells him that she and Leslie had become friendly and that Leslie used to pick her up from work. Thomas reluctantly agrees to pick her up from work following Leslie’s untimely demise. Thomas goes to the diner and meets Tracey, still having some reservations about the situation.

Thomas takes Tracey home, and she makes sexual advances towards him. He declines, telling her that he is still in love with his ex-wife. Also, he thinks that, as she is his student, it would be unethical. Thomas goes to see Megan. He tells her he still loves her and wants to work through their problems. She tells him it is too late.

do I seem crazy to you? Do I?!

The next day, Tracy comes to see Thomas again. He succumbs to her charms. They begin seeing one another. One evening, Thomas tells her how his son died whilst in his care, and though his wife did not blame him, he blamed himself and began to drink heavily, which is why he is teetotal.

Thomas tells his AA sponsor about the relationship. His sponsor tells him to be careful. Thomas goes to see Tracy and finds out that her parents died in a fire and that she is an only child. She takes anti-depressants for the trauma. Tracy says she has a surprise for him, and that he should get in the bed. She ties him to the bed and pours alcohol into his mouth, getting him drunk.

The next day, Thomas is late to meet his daughter. He is supposed to take her swimming. Tracy takes offense at him not wanting her to meet his daughter. While Thomas is out with Brittany, Tracy sends him an excessive amount of voicemail messages, even threatening to ruin his life.

She goes around to his house to see him, apologising for the messages. While Tracy is at the house, Thomas gets a call. Megan has been in an accident. Thomas tells Tracy he has to go.

He goes to the hospital and stays overnight, sleeping near Megan, who is in a coma. Megan’s mother, Diane (Valerie Pettiford) tells him to go home. She will call him if anything changes.

Thomas finds Tracy still in his home. He breaks up with her even as she refuses to accept it. He returns to the hospital. Megan wakes up. She tells him that she loves him. He asks if she was speeding, and she tells him no, her brakes failed.

Tracy goes to the hospital and gives Brittany a bracelet, telling her that she is her step-mother. The detectives come to talk to Thomas. They got an anonymous tip-off that he cut the brake line in his ex-wife’s car. While Thomas is at the police station, a mysterious man sneaks into Megan’s room in the hospital and post photos of Tracy all around her.

Thomas takes Megan home. Diane takes Brittany out to play. She gets kidnapped. Thomas finds her on the roof of Tracy’s building. While he is getting her back, Tracy goes to Megan’s house and tries to kill her. The police catch her before she can drown her.

Two months later, the police tell Tracy and Megan that Tracy Jacobs is, in fact, Laura Santiago, an escaped psychiatric patient. She was not an only child. She has a brother, who also suffered from mental problems. They both were incarcerated, suspected of killing their parents.

Tracy’s brother frees her from another institution. The end.

We Belong Together is, unsurprisingly, bloody awful. My description of it must seem incomplete and haphazard but, I promise you, it is better than the film. What is good about the film? Nothing.

The story is lazy, uninspired, unoriginal, boring nonsense. The acting is pure B movie level, the worst performance coming from the perennially pouting Michele. The worst thing about her performances is that she looks like she is acting all of the time.

The rest of the cast have been in better films than this, and so can be partially forgiven for taking a payday. Written and directed by Christopher B Stokes, who is better known for music videos, the film is, at least, shot quite well and in focus. So there is that.

The crazed girlfriend is a trope that has been used so many times, that, to make it work, one needs either an excellent script or a subtle, different take on it. This film has neither. The script is terrible, and it is as subtle as a baby screaming for a nappy change, feed, attention, or all three.

It is as if the director pointed the camera at the actors, and gave them an outline of what was meant to happen in the scene, let them improvise it, and went with the first take every single time.

The music is irritatingly ominous at all times, the editing is sloppy, and the focus on Michele’s admittedly not unattractive face, in some misguided attempt to allow us to witness her particular level of crazy, is amateurish.

We Belong Together—a line she shouts in desperation as this pile of poo was drawing to its conclusion—is a car wreck of a film, and one would do well to avoid watching it. You are welcome.

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.