It seems the stalker slasher is still very much a thing. Netflix’s Fatal Affair is the latest entry into this storied Hollywood genre—and if you’re immediately recalling 1987’s Fatal Attraction, well, you’re not too far off base. Besides the similar titles, the plots aren’t that different, either. Fatal Attraction centers on a married man (Michael Douglas) who has an affair with a magazine editor named Alex (Glenn Close) that turns deadly. In Fatal Affair, the script is flipped: Nia Long plays Ellie, a successful, married lawyer who unexpectedly reconnects with a college friend, David (Omar Epps). After one, alcohol-fueled night of passion—that Ellie stops before it gets too out of hand—David develops an unhinged, homicidal obsession. Now, Ellie has to fight for her life—and the lives of her husband, daughter and best friend—as David starts infiltrating her inner circle.
The story and scares are paint-by-numbers, but Fatal Affair does offer a few new twists. For one, we learn that David’s ex-wife was mysteriously murdered alongside another man. Was he responsible for their deaths? And does that mean Ellie’s chances of surviving are slim? Those are the two questions on your mind throughout the film’s brisk 90 minutes—which, honestly, is the perfect amount time for something like this. It’s pure, voyeuristic serotonin from start to finish: a lean, laser-sharp story that delivers exactly what you want. Think thriller drive-thru food, and I mean that in the best way possible.
One major difference between Fatal Affair and movies like Fatal Attraction and Obsessed—remember that 2009 masterpiece starring Beyoncé?—is the plot development. In Fatal Attraction and Obsessed, we don’t learn why the “cheating” incidents happen. In Fatal Affair, though, Ellie’s reasons for seeking out David are clear. Because of this, all the jaw-dropping drama that follows is grounded in something real. In many ways, the film is an exaggerated metaphor for what can happen when issues in a marriage aren’t addressed.
“Ellie and her husband have essentially become strangers,” Long tells Glamour. “Everyone has [a situation] where you can go through a marriage and feel lonely. She goes outside of her marriage to find some excitement or to try to remedy a personal challenge, and it turns into something disastrous. That’s a real human experience. Not necessarily the stalker portion, but definitely the feeling of, ‘I feel empty in this relationship and I need more or I want more.’ And then you realize you really needed to do some self-evaluation to be a better partner to your partner. I know people in longterm marriages have those moments where they just feel like, ‘Is this over? Are we growing together? Are we growing apart?’”
Even with its real themes, Fatal Affair is still a movie you can watch on autopilot; start streaming while you’re eating dinner, doing the laundry, or scrolling through Instagram. It’s the perfect piece of spiked cotton candy that your brain needs right now. After all, life for many of us isn’t amazing these days, but Fatal Affair is here to remind you things could be much, much worse.
Here’s the thing, though: This genre has stood the test of time. We’ve been consuming and enjoying stalker movies for decades now…far before a pandemic. Play Misty for Me—about a radio DJ that sleeps with a woman randomly one night who starts stalking him—hit theaters in 1971. Then, you have movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) and The Roommate (2011); they’re all made from the same sauce. So what gives? Why has this genre endured for eons?
“People know what to expect,” Long tells Glamour. “Humans are creatures of habit. And it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a thriller. That means I don’t have to think too hard. I can actually get up during the movie and go get another glass of wine and still hear what’s going on and sit back down and not miss anything.’ I think people love the idea of knowing somebody is crazy, and somebody might die. They’re all for it. You can just sit there and be entertained for 90 minutes and give your mind a break from the very interesting times we’re living in right now.”
Whatever the case, we happily welcome Fatal Affair into this tense, twisty subgenre. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.
The post Netflix’s Fatal Affair Review: This Movie Is Like Obsessed and Fatal Attraction on Steroids appeared first on Glamour.