The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
When I started up Fatal Affair, my only thoughts were hoping that this would be another fun stalker thriller similar to the insane The Perfect Guy or The Intruder. However, when a film titled Fatal Affair was rated PG-13 for sex and language, my thoughts immediately wondered where the "fatal" part of the title was going to come into play.
It's been quite some time since I've seen a film with as little aspiration as this one. In normal circumstances I'd compare this to a Lifetime film or a Hallmark movie of the week, but honestly that'd be cruel to those films. Director Peter Sullivan, who also co-wrote the project, seems to have absolutely no passion for the film at hand, and what made this even more clear after viewing his filmography is that he shares a similar laziness through all his titles, with not a single feature scoring higher than a 5 out of 10 on IMDb scale. Direction is a crucial element of any film, even if the plot is outstanding, which it certainly is not in this situation.
Ellie Warren (Nia Long) is a lawyer that has decided to leave her firm in the big city to move to the beachside to start her own firm. On her last day at her old firm she is reintroduced to an old acquaintance, David Hammond (Omar Epps), who harbors an obsession after a failed fling at a nightclub. The film then transpires toward a blackmail, obsession, and stalker filled storyline that feels unintentionally choppy. As the story goes along there doesn't appear to be a villain or hero to the story being told as almost all main characters fail to have any emotional draw for the audience to latch onto.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The characters are despicable. Omar Epps as David may be meant to be the bad guy, but at least he gave a performance that matched. Nia Long however is supposed to be our lead, our hero in this tale, but her character's beyond irritating in her decisions; most of which come off just as selfish as David. Long's performance brought me to anger multiple times, and as far as I can conclude, beyond her performance the character was supposed to be someone you rooted for to come out on top, but Long, whether through the direction or not, brought absolutely nothing positive to the character of Ellie. The only likable characters the film gave us are Ellie's husband and daughter, who unfortunately brought very little to the film in the minimal screen time they both had.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Do Yourself A Favor And Pass Over 'Fatal Affair'
Visually, the film is bleak and suffers from poor cinematography throughout. When you have an amazing beach house with a beautiful ocean view, maybe don't have the film appear to be using a green screen the entire time. A majority of the time the film appears to have been purposefully shot at the bleakest moments of the day when it was set to rain, and this makes the film unnecessarily dark at all times. Unlike a film like Se7en that's always raining (apart from a few scenes) to set the mood of the entire film, Fatal Affair doesn't have a good reason to make the film as drab as it is.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Composer Matthew Janszen is relatively new to the scene, starting back in 2011 with TV movies and straight-to-dvd films in a few animated television shows (ThunderCats Roar, Archibald's Next Big Thing). So as far as feature films go, Fatal Affair is this composer's first mainstream streaming release and he actually does a pretty decent job. When the direction was lacking in some of the more tense moments, Janszen's score elevated the scenes to almost their full potential. While the "horror" score that played at night in the kitchen and on the golf course while someone's back was turned may come off as highly predictable elements of a stereotypical horror/thriller, it worked here because of how dreadful the other crucial pieces were.
With zero expectations, I somehow left Fatal Affair disappointed. Actually, less than disappointed. I left angry that I spent 90 minutes hoping that something entertaining might just occur. For a film with no leads to actually root for, the only thing you can do is root for the credits to start to scroll. With so many stalker centric films out on the market, please do yourself a favor and pass over Fatal Affair.