Netflixable? Missing the “attraction” in “Fatal Affair”

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“Fatal Attraction” became such a cinematic touchstone that attempting a screen knockoff of it can’t be judged a crime.

Granted, nobody has pulled off the hot and sexy, creepy and gonzo “my paramour is now my stalker” thing as well. “Chloe” tried, “The Perfect Guy” was another swing and a miss.

As is “Fatal Affair,” a thriller in which the thrills, the threat of violence and the sexy come-on are but tepid imitations of the lurid Adrian Lyne “classic” of 1987.

Fair to say Peter Sullivan (he did Netflix’s similarly lame “Secret Obsession”) is no Adrian Lyne. Not a skilled audience manipulator, not torrid or kinky enough to push people’s buttons, a mediocre movie maker without the nerve to pull something like this off.

Did I leave anything out? Anybody with this many “My Summer Prince” and “Christmas” Hallmark (ish) titles on his resume is aspiring to mediocrity, and lucky to wear even that insult as a label.

But another thing that trips up these imitations is that nobody has the all-in gusto that Glenn Close brought to the stalker in “Fatal Attraction.” Mike Ealy has the crazy eyes, but not much else in “Perfect Guy.” Omar Epps is no Glenn Close, either.

Folks, you got to “sell” the sexy and charming and “normal,” and those throw caution to the wind and go NUTS in the third act to make pictures like this pay off.

Nia Long is the object of the stalking, a married mother of a coed, a lawyer starting her own practice in tony beachfront country north of San Francisco. So yeah, we get it. The hot and heavy “meet for drinks” that leads to all this…misunderstanding is lukewarm in the extreme.

Long doesn’t sell the over-40-and-hungry thing her character is supposed to experience. Her fear at the threat she starts to recognize is weak, too.

The ludicrous bits here are her character’s ability to hack the “hacker” that Epps’ David is supposed to have mastered, her “Stay away from me” threats and “Let’s leave the past where it is” pleas don’t convince us, much less a guy obsessed with her.

Epps? Blandly engaging, never-quite-alarming.

It doesn’t work. Considering its mediocre director’s resume, maybe it would’ve played better as a Christmas comedy.

1star6

MPAA Rating: TV-14, violence, sexual situations.

Cast: Nia Long, Omar Epps, Stephn Bishop, Maya Stojan

Credits: Directed by Peter Sullivan, script by Peter Sullivan and Rasheeda Garner. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:29

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