‘Fatale’ Review: Tawdry, Trashy Fun

Staci Layne Wilson's review of Fatale, a full-on guilty pleasure with a scintillating woman-scorned performance by Hilary Swank.
User Rating: 7

If you can’t miss a single Lifetime original movie of the week and you’re a card-carry member of the Fatal Attraction Fan Club, then Fatale will be right up your dark alley. It’s a trashy infidelity thriller starring Hilary Swank as a woman scorned, and Michael Ealy as the hapless manburger caught in her crosshairs.

This neo-noir thrill ride starts off by introducing us to Derrick Tyler, a guy who has it all: A thriving business in the entertainment industry, a titan mansion right on the beach complete with an infinity pool, a four-car garage for his exotic car collection, and of course, his trophy wife (Damaris Lewis), Traci. That’s not to say things are perfect, but things go from somewhat rocky to full-tilt WTF mode after Derrick does the deed with a seductive stranger he picks up in a bar while at a bachelor party.

The next night, Derrick and Traci’s home is broken into, and the perpetrator gets away. Naturally, they call the cops. Who should be the lead detective but Derrick’s dirty little secret? Valerie toys with Derrick, almost-but-not-quite, telling his wife about their encounter. Then her play turns rough—she starts blackmailing Derrick, setting him up for a major fall. I won’t spoil the surprises, but suffice to say, Fatale has more twists and turns than Sunset Boulevard’s own Dead Man’s Curve.

Fatale is an upscale B-movie, complete with an R&B/hip-hop soundtrack that helps immerse you in Derrick’s rich, sleek world. The homes are luxurious (even the detective’s loft is like something out of MTV’s Cribs), and the clothes are flawless.

While director Deon Taylor could have done more to ratchet up the suspense, screenwriter David Loughery is mostly on the money. No surprise there, since Loughery is the architect of several similar showy suspensers (Nurse 3D, Obsessed, and Lakeview Terrace, to name a few). Swank is fantastic as the evil cop with an agenda, but Ealy is just okay as the passive, reactive victim. There is a subplot reflecting on Valarie’s former life as a wife and mother, but it never really feels developed enough to matter when it comes to the forefront as her whole reason for manipulating her new puppet into doing her murderous bidding. There’s also a scene featuring sage advice from Derrick’s mom (Denise Dowse) that seems dropped in for no good reason, other than for her words to echo in his mind at a pivotal moment later on.

Fatale is forgettable fun, worth a watch if you’re in for nothing more than a little guilty pleasure.

Written by
Staci is known for her work in the horror genre, having been the producer and host of the talk shows Inside Horror, Dread Central Live, and This Week In Horror and she has appeared on Bravo, Reelz, AMC, M-TV, and CNN as a film expert. She is the author of Animal Movies Guide, 50 Years of Ghost Movies, and several horror novels.

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