reviewed by Matt Demers
Director: Deon Taylor
Premiere Date (Streaming): Dec. 18, 2020
While Deon Taylor’s Fatale is no modern-day noir masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, it surely makes for an engrossing b-movie quality guilty pleasure.
Yes, the story is an incredibly soapy mix of low-level suspense and barely-there eroticism, but the audaciousness of it all makes it so you can’t look away – truly. Centering around Derrick, a studly sports agent reaping the rewards of his many successes, it’s not long before we witness his picture-perfect life slowly deteriorate thanks to a one-night stand with a dangerously beautiful police detective. The twisted web of crazy train events that follows make for an undeniably entertaining game of cat and mouse. Again, it’s tawdry to ‘nth degree, but it never once tries to pretend it’s anything but. And hey, there’s also a surprising amount of genuine unpredictability to boot. I mean, they are not Hitchcockian-level twists, more like ones you’d find in a bygone episode of Melrose Place.
Unfortunately, much like the bonkers plot, the acting on display is also all over the place. Yep, pretty much everyone involved here behaves in all sorts of ludicrous and borderline laughable ways. To be clear, this is entirely the result of the material they’ve been given to work with. Let’s just say characterization isn’t the film’s strong suit. With that said, though, Hilary Swank probably deserves the most credit, as she certainly goes all in with her character’s “craziness” on more than a few occasions. Alas, it’s all too lurid and silly to be some sort of career highlight for the Oscar winner, but it’s fun to see, nonetheless. And for those looking for eye candy, well, you’ll need not look too hard. Yep, our lead actor, Michael Ealy, and his onscreen wife, Damaris Lewis, bring all the heat you can handle – and perhaps then some.
And while it’s all too easy to dismiss Fatale as nothing more than a trashy distraction, there’s still something to be said for its twisty throwback charms. Fans of films the likes of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct should particularly feel a sense of nostalgia with this addition to the “sexy psycho stalker” movie list. But perhaps therein lies the problem. For all its racy and stylish resemblances to erotic thrillers of years past, it adds nothing new to the genre. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it though. My suggestion – dim the lights real low, fill the biggest bowl you can find with buttery popcorn, light a candle and, most importantly, leave logic at the door!