One pretty much knows what to expect going into a movie titled Obsessed. And in this case, that title delivers on every front — a big business hotshot is propositioned by a disturbed secretary, and she turns into a vicious femme fatale who stalks our hero and attempts to tear down the magnificent life he has worked hard to build. What outrageous, over-the-top tripe. And what hysterical fun.
Here is the most fantastically overwrought, deliberately melodramatic, white-knuckle B-movie of the year, a film so steeped in the formula of the psycho-sexual suspense flick that it works as both a thriller and a comedy. It is a classic howler, the kind of movie so in on the joke that it invites the audience to scream, shout, and cackle at the screen in a celebration of the collective joy of good trash. And Obsessed is very good trash.
Are you interested in hearing the plot? Is it necessary? All one needs to know before walking into the theater is that the movie is a stupid, obvious, overblown hoot. Idris Elba plays Derek Charles, a recently promoted business executive who has just purchased a posh new home with his doting wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), and their baby boy. Derek is the perfect rich-prick hero; his life is soft-focus perfect. But no life is too perfect, I guess, to avoid the eventual disturbance of the psychotic stalker who works in the office as — you guessed it — a temp. Lisa (Ali Larter) strikes up an immediate rapport with Derek, and quickly begins her plot to become his one and only love… whether he likes it or not.
This same story has been told literally hundreds of times, in movies as recognizable as Fatal Attraction, Disclosure, and other similar films, some of which actually didn’t star Michael Douglas. Obsessed makes no attempt to shift or alter the clichéd structure or twist the inevitable, gruesome climax. There are no surprises other than the increasing hilarity of each successive compromising scenario the characters find themselves in. The movie should receive ample credit for one groundbreaking plot point: I’ve never seen a film in which a woman date-rapes a man, and in all honesty I found it very entertaining.
Of course, the femme fatale digs her claws into every aspect of Derek’s personal and professional life — she propositions him at parties and in the parking garage, stalks him to a lush business retreat where she pretends to be his wife, and slips him a roofie in his cocktail. Derek doesn’t say a word about his trouble to anyone, thereby creating massive distrust when his wife finds out — distrust that could “end their perfect marriage.” The bitch crosses the line when Beyoncé gets mad, and the film crescendos in what I can safely say will be 2009’s best knock-down, drag-out girlfight, complete with treacherous staircases, everyday household weaponry, and floors that easily give out under just the right amount of pressure.
Obsessed takes itself so seriously that it couldn’t possibly take itself seriously. It is a grandly sensational, relentlessly exploitative B-movie revival of the highest order. But watching actors like Elba and Knowles maintain straight faces while emoting the hell out of this connect-the-dots script is just plain entertaining. Equally entertaining is watching Larter barely suppress grins as she digs gleefully deeper into this villainous role, and witnessing Jerry O’connell, as Derek’s best friend and colleague, not even attempt to disguise his laughter as he recites lines so trite they’re almost fresh. The film is mindless, guttural, emotion-driven, button-pushing juicy fun. Engaging one’s mind would be a fatal flaw; this is the kind of movie best enjoyed under a drunken haze of soda and popcorn.
He was asking for it, dressing like that.