A jealous ex-wife. A new fiance with a troubled past. Unforgettable.
The unexpected genre hits keep coming. Following Jordan Peele‘s comedy horror masterpiece, Get Out, comes another comedy of scares – Unforgettable.
When Julia (Rosario Dawson) takes the bold step of moving to her boyfriend’s home in a small California town where she knows no one. Expecting it to be difficult, she never imagines just how hard things are going to be until she crosses paths with Tessa (Katherine Heigl) – the ex and mother of her future stepdaughter. Insanely jealous and controlling, Tessa takes matters into her own psychotic hands, stealing Julia’s identity in order to mess with her head and sic her abusive ex-boyfriend on her in an evil plot to take her husband back. Don’t worry, I didn’t give away anything that the trailers and the first three minutes of the film don’t make amazingly and explicitly clear. It starts out, after all, with one of Mrs. Hamster’s most hated narrative device – a dramatic opening scene followed by “six months earlier…”
A parody of erotic and psychological thrillers, Unforgettable is trashy, pulpy, genius. The roads it takes are so clearly marked and pulled from the most overused cliches imaginable. Everything is turned up to eleven, crossing the line of chills and camp back and forth and back and forth. Heigl plays psycho bitch to caricatured perfection – you hate her from the moment you lay eyes on her. The fact that no one seems to notice that she’s practically a cartoon villain just heightens the sense of surrealism that plays off the overused expectations of this sort of story. Escalating to bizarre heights, the movie elicits equal amounts of laughter and screams in a roller coaster of genre mashups.
Equally interesting is the way Heigl is portrayed as white perfection aghast at the perceived threat of someone like Dawson entering her life and disrupting her dignity, while Geoff Stults‘ turn as the husband/father/fiance caught in the middle of this represents the danger of white apathy as he seems to be more concerned with just trying to brush off the disturbing incidents in the name of keeping the peace and not paying attention to the crazy.
The whole thing is just brilliant in the way…wait, hold the phone, stop the presses. My editor just told me that this movie was NOT supposed to be a comedy or social commentary. Oh. Well, hmm…ouch.
In seriousness, this movie plays so much like a parody of a thriller it might be mistaken for one if not for the fact it’s so completely unaware of what it looks like. It does, in fact, set up some potentially interesting opportunities for social commentary – yet has nothing at all to say. The fact that the villain is so comically over the top is not supposed to be some self aware stroke of genius – instead it is just bad writing. It is true that the apathetic nature of object of desire here is disturbing – he’s utterly useless half the time and gives no reason for either woman to really care about being with him. He’s one dimensional and rather dense. We’re told he’s an adventurous spirit, launching a craft brewery – yet his house and attitude are both decorated in glossy mediocrity.
The story is so blatant with where it is going that I was literally afraid that it was going to try to pull off some Shyamalan shenanigans in the end and reveal that Julia is actually the crazy evil one and all of this is in her head, fear and disillusions left over from her traumatic experience with her abusive ex. That would have been interesting at least.
This movie is not so bad that it’s good – it’s just bad. It’s entertaining to watch with an audience who is quickly realizing that fact and vocalizes their amazement at the ridiculousness to which it goes, but that’s about it. It’s not thrilling, or psycological, or erotic, in any of the ways that you would want it to be. It’s pretty much just silly without even knowing it, which is just sad.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Two out of five hats
Unforgettable murders 2,417 theaters April 21