Don't expect a pot full of boiling bunnies, because nothing so creatively crazy ever happens in "Obsessed."

Beyonce Knowles

Don’t expect a pot full of boiling bunnies, because nothing so creatively crazy ever happens in “Obsessed,” a “Fatal Attraction”-inspired predatory-female domestic thriller that spends much time spinning its wheels and making auds practically beg for an explanation to all the madness and obsession. Beyonce Knowles may be the big B.O. draw in this Stephen Shill-helmed psychodrama, which topped the weekend B.O. with a surprising $28.5 million opening, but she’s barely a supporting player: The movie belongs to Ali Larter, who’s long overdue for some kind of bigscreen breakout.

Sultry blonde Larter (“Heroes”) plays office temp/temptress Lisa Sheridan, who isn’t even off the elevator at her latest job before she’s set her psychotic sights on Derek (Idris Elba), a good-looking, happily married, up-and-coming investment broker at a flourishing downtown Los Angeles firm. Derek and wife Sharon (Knowles), who have a kid, have just moved into a cavernous old house with a wobbly attic floor and a glass-top table directly underneath it downstairs (remember this later!).

They seem the picture of contentment, save for Sharon’s obvious unhappiness with the fact that Derek has a new female assistant. “I want her fired immediately,” Sharon says (so much for sisterhood), and no one seems to think this marks any instability in what is soon to be one plutonium-enriched domestic partnership. But Derek, it seems, met Sharon at work, too (cue the organist).

Sharon doesn’t leave a good impression, but Derek is the picture of marital fidelity: No matter how slinkily Lisa comports herself, Derek says no, thanks. Derek is believable enough; not so Lisa, whose inappropriate antics wouldn’t be tolerated for five minutes in today’s sexual harassment-conscious corporate atmosphere. David Loughery’s screenplay never provides any explanation for why she is who she is: She has no motives other than mad obsession (which isn’t that interesting, really; even the Wicked Witch of the West had reasons), and she has no backstory: Unless her temp agency recruits its workers outside Home Depot, Lisa would have to have references, and she would have to have acquired them from somewhere outside the mental-health community.

If Derek had actually slept with Lisa, a la Michael Douglas in “Fatal Attraction,” “Obsessed” would at least have had the spurned-woman gambit to play, however hoary. But Shill and Loughery aren’t overly concerned with plausibility: There isn’t one woman in a position higher than secretary at Derek’s firm, and this alone makes the pic as shaky as Derek’s attic floor. The seldom-seen Christine Lahti does play the requisite detective, albeit one who has a tendency to show up just as the action has come to an end.

Bruce McGill is his usual sturdy self as Derek’s boss, but Jerry O’Connell gives one weird performance as his office pal, Ben. Ben may be in love with Derek. It seems to be an unhealthy trend.

Production values are good, notably the editing by veteran Paul Seydor.


  • Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Screen Gems presentation of a Rainforest production. Produced by Will Packer. Executive producers, Glenn S. Gainor, Mathew Knowles, Beyonce Knowles, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, David Loughery, Damon Lee, Jeff Graup. Co-producer, Nicholas Stern. Directed by Steve Shill. Screenplay, David Loughery.
  • Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Ken Seng; editor, Paul Seydor; music, Jim Dooley; production designer, Jon Gary Steele; art director, Chris Cornwell; set decorator, Dena Roth; costume designer, Maya Lieberman; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff; supervising sound editors, Will Riley, Sean McCormack; visual effects supervisor, Rocco Passionino; visual effects, Zoic Studios; special effects coordinator, John Frazier; stunt coordinator, Lance Gilbert; assistant director, Mark A. Little; associate producer, George Flynn; casting, Valorie Massalas, Ron Digman. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Reviewed at AMC Loews Kips Bay, New York, April 24, 2009. Running time: 92 MIN.
  • With: Derek - Idris Elba Sharon - Beyonce Knowles Lisa - Ali Larter Joe Gage - Bruce McGill Patrick - Matthew Humphreys Samantha - Scout Taylor-Compton Ben - Jerry O'Connell Marge - Bonnie Perlman Reese - Christine Lahti
  • Music By: