tn_obsessedI guess Beyonce Knowles released a “surprise album” on iTunes on Friday. They didn’t announce it in advance or anything and word spread like word spreads on the internet and holy shit it became the number one selling digital file album of such and such. Everybody lost their shit and wrote headlines and everything. Amazing! Revolutionary! It may seem like a clever attention-getting gimmick for a star of her size to not bother with marketing, but here’s the truth: her husband Jay-Z knew through the Illuminati that I had just watched Beyonce’s Christmas-time thriller OBSESSED and was about to put up a review. So she knew she had to rush the album’s release in order to take advantage of that extra spotlight. Your welcome, Beyonce.

Like in DIE HARD, the shit goes down at an office Christmas party for some L.A. financial something-or-other firm. But instead of faux-terrorists taking over the building it’s a stalker executive assistant trying to take a married man. Lisa (Ali Larter from FINAL DESTINATION) is a temp who’s been breathing all over Derek Charles (Idris Elba, GHOST RIDER’S SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE), listening in on his phone calls, finding out too much about him, putting him in uncomfortable situations. The camera makes her seductive, zeroing in on her crossed legs when she sits near him, her glossed lips when she smiles at him.

But unlike most of the guys in these types of movies he never bites. He’s happily married to Sharon (Beyonce Knowles), has a baby son at home, just moved into a new house with a mirror above the bed, and despite devil-on-his-shoulder encouragement from his douchey best bud at the office (if you guess Jerry O’Connell you guessed right) he’s not stupid enough to throw that all away just so he can fuck this skinny white girl from work. A commendable lack of thinking with his dick.

mp_obsessedStill, it’s obvious that he notices and appreciates the attention. That’s fine, but his mistake is not doing enough to shut her down in the beginning. It’s only when she tries to hump him in the men’s room during the party and later when she gets in his car and takes her dress off that he starts telling her to cool it. Even then he makes one of those stupid mistakes that’s frustrating to watch in a movie: he keeps not telling his wife what’s going on. He’ll almost bring it up and then pussy out, maybe believing it’s his fault or that his wife will think there’s more to it, since he had a past as the office horndog. But, you know, every incident he doesn’t mention is another strike against him when Lisa inevitably pretends they’re having the affair he rejected.

It’s a really generic treatment of an admittedly effective formula of FATAL ATTRACTION inspired thrillers. That the victims are a black upper class family instead of Michael Douglas is interesting, though. Race is never mentioned at all, so the same script could be done with a white family, they’d just have a less smoothed out on the R&B tip song during the Christmas morning present-opening montage. But it wouldn’t work the same. There are unavoidable connotations to a white woman trying to steal a black man from his black wife. The tension exists even if it’s not underlined in dialogue.

The values are very standard for this type of movie, pretty primal. It’s about a man’s fear of not being able to control his dick, or his wife blaming him for thoughts about another woman. And it’s about a woman’s fears that her man can’t control his dick, or some bitch is trying to steal him, and can she compete? Does he have a thing for white girls? Now that she is a mother and home owner is her man gonna get scared of their commitment and start acting like a teenager and ruin everything she worked so hard for? Is he not ready for this jelly?

Also there’s the angry property owner aspect. You violated the sanctity of my home, you touched my baby, you must die. And there’s a pretty shitty stereotype here: the other assistant Lisa works with is a catty gay guy who loves gossip so much he keeps endangering the Charles family by telling Derek’s business to Lisa. From his facial expressions it seems like he even knows how shameful his behavior is, but he’s an addict. He can’t keep his gossip dick in his pants like Derek does with his actual dick.

It’s weird because the movie is from Derek’s POV until the climax, when suddenly Sharon discovers Lisa in their house and has to fight her. It’s an epic catfight, which I don’t mean as a sexist term but as an acknowledgment that they’re just wailing on each other, they don’t have any technique, and that makes it fun. And they go far enough that the house gets pretty fucked up. Lisa becomes a literal homewrecker even while not wearing any pants.

For me the movie was worth watching just to see Beyonce dragging half-naked Lisa by the ankle and saying “You crazy bitch. I’ll wipe the floor with your skinny ass!” She has a couple good tough girl lines like that. And there is a great, preposterous and suspenseful set piece that leads to Lisa’s ultimate fate. I think it’s intentional that the whole movie is the husband failing to handle this Lisa problem and finally the wife takes care of it, only to have the husband run up and hug her when it’s all over, like a typical movie wife. It’s gotta be an intentional gender inversion there.

It’s a fun sequence. As I watched it I could almost here the cheers I’m sure it got when it played in theaters. I probly would’ve been cheering, at least. Still, I gotta say it feels a little unearned. Sharon is such a nothing character throughout the rest of the movie. She has no unique characteristics. She just does standard cutesy talk, mother talk, serious wife talk. She’s in the dark about what’s really going on and makes the wrong decision, blaming Derek for something he didn’t do and kicking him out. When she decides to take him back she doesn’t even give herself credit for it, she says “I don’t come from a family of divorce.” Put it on inherited rules of morality and not her own decision making.

I wish the movie worked better as a whole, but it’s undeniably fun to see a woman talking shit and scrapping like that, especially when that woman is a likable-but-usually-not-portrayed-in-this-way pop singer like Beyonce. Her acting is not great in this movie, but her attitude and her… fierceness is enjoyable.

Personally I don’t have much opinion on Beyonce one way or the other. She is obviously talented and I’ve enjoyed a few of her songs. I don’t know that much about her music and even less about her as a person. Whatever her out of touch upper class lifestyle may be I think we can respect that she seems to hold herself to a classier standard than most of her celebrity peers. On the other hand, my favorite thing she ever did was this very non-classy cover photo:

That actually would’ve been an even better ending to OBSESSED. Maybe the pet gators come up in part 2.

Actually I’m genuinely surprised they haven’t done a part 2, but as an unrelated DTV sequel. They did SINGLE WHITE FEMALE 2, after all. OBSESSED 2 would just be the same story with different names and lesser known actors, probly even the same racial dynamic, though they might get nervous and point it out this time.

It’s worth mentioning that Scout Taylor-Compton, Rob Zombie’s Laurie Strode, plays a babysitter who falls for Lisa pretending to be a friend of Sharon’s dropping off a present for the baby. That poor girl just cannot get a break on her babysitting gigs. Maybe she could continue the streak as the one returning character who ties the sequels together. Or if she won’t do it get the gay guy.

OBSESSED is the only theatrical film so far from prolific TV director Steve Shill. The screenplay is by David Loughery, who had a hand in PASSENGER 57, MONEY TRAIN, the surprisingly good (and openly racially themed) LAKEVIEW TERRACE, and also STAR TREK V. So you trekkos are gonna love this shit. It’s just like Star Trek only this time the final frontier is the attic of Beyonce’s house where she has to dodge swinging two-by-fours and stay balanced on the beams even though she’s wearing boots with heels.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 16th, 2013 at 2:27 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

15 Responses to “Obsessed”

  1. Watched this on Netflix UK the other week, mostly for a laugh with a mate, and you’ve nailed it Vern, right to the wall. As always, great piece.

  2. “FATAL ATTRACTION-inspired thrillers” Didn’t it all start with PLAY MISTY FOR ME? I remember reading a quote from John Carpenter saying he rejected the script because it aped considerably a lot from that one.

  3. Beyonce dragging a half-naked Ali Larter by the ankle? Why couldn’t this have been directed by Russ Meyer?

  4. “Actually I’m genuinely surprised they haven’t done a part 2, but as an unrelated DTV sequel.”
    With Michael Jai White replacing Idris Elba, and the Ali Larter character being Russian and proclaiming “I am the most complete homewrecker in the world!”?

  5. Wasn’t this thing originally called OH NO SHE DIDN’T? Man, I wish they’d stuck with that title.

    Otherwise, exceptional as always Vern. Thanks for making my Monday less blue.

  6. OH NO SHE DIDN’T would have been a great title. As it was (and I feel a little awful for saying this), I’m sure it was shouted at the screen a lot during it’s theatrical run. I’d guess this was a consideration in going with the more generic title we refer to it now, because it would just be so meta to yell the name of the movie at the screen. I’m just imagining something like that happening during the most random movie possible, where some random white guy stands up and yells at the screen “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY!” like it was a nervous twitch or something.

  7. As a trekko, I feel the need to say that someone being involved with Star Trek V doesn’t say much for them at all.

  8. “Is he not ready for this jelly?” should’ve been on the poster.

  9. Why does everyone bash Star Trek V? Obviously its pretty flawed, but its the only one that is really mainly about Kirk, Spock and Bones hanging out and then working together as bros. in this way, its most like the TOS in my opinion. I know I might get shouted down for this, but that’s how I feel. Star Trek V is pretty good.

  10. Bad Seed – “Wasn’t this thing originally called OH NO SHE DIDN’T? Man, I wish they’d stuck with that title.”

    I have never in my life heard a Beyonce album nor do I find her attractive in any way. But any movie with that name would’ve gotten my money on principal.

  11. I saw this on TV earlier this year. It’s cheesy, harmless disposable fun. My only problem with it was Beyoncé as the wife. She may be a scorcher, but she’s also wooden to the core as an actress. I would’ve preferred Regina Hall or Kerry Washington.

    This movie did provide me with a zinger of enlightenment. So… there I was, watching it late on a weeknight, and I’m puzzling over the identity of the male lead. Who is this guy?… he seems real familiar.

    Then about 20 minutes into it, I figure it out: Holy shit, it’s Idris Elba! I’d never seen him without his mustache before. And shortly after this the zinger swam into view: WITH his mustache, Idris Elba is The Guy, a manly man’s man, “keeng in thee castle” as Borat would say. WITHOUT his mustache, he’s just a regular dude… no more, no less. It’s a rare phenomenon that, among actors, also seems to apply to Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck.

    Still, I would’ve been happier had the movie pulled a 180 and ended with Idris pounding on the front door of his suburban home, locked out, and then segue into an extended girl-on-girl shower scene with Beyoncé and Ali Larter. But that’s just me.

  12. How dare you, Larry, imply that Sam Elliot is ever not The Guy. Although, his mustache is a bad ass character all on its own.

  13. my experience with Beyoncé begins and ends with that Destiny’s Child song Survivor and her role in the third Austin Powers movie

  14. The Original... Paul

    December 17th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Griff – while I kinda feel you there, judging Beyonce on “Survivor” and “Goldmember” is kinda like judging Arnie on “Batman and Robin” alone. I don’t think Destiny’s Child have done anything I really liked (I just can’t get past those horrible synth-violin sounds that they seem to put in every one of their records) but they’ve certainly done a whole lot better than “Survivor”. My issue with Destiny’s Child is much the same one as Vern has with 50 Cent – of all the acts to make it to mega-stardom, why on earth was it THAT one?

  15. I’m not judging her, I’m just saying that’s all I know about her and in fact, I kinda liked Survivor and the third Austin Powers movie

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