Katherine Heigl and Rosario Dawson face off with unintentionally hilarious consequences
Yummy mummies get the psycho treatment in the optimistically titled Unforgettable, an amusingly misjudged thriller from veteran-producer-turned-inept-director Denise Di Novi. Featuring a game Katherine Heigl, the film crafts a character who's hilariously hissable before upping the ante – if you think she's a bitch then you should meet her mother.
Fruitcake Junior is Tessa (Heigl): horse-rider, carb-dodger, organic food enthusiast, arsonist. Like a Stepford Wife crossed with Ray Liotta, she's deliciously awful as she sings to her kid in French, boasts about her sex life and makes a spectacular nuisance of herself. The child in question is a visibly anxious mini-me whose hair gets brushed so often it's a wonder she doesn't go bald.
Unfortunately for Tessa, her former husband David (Geoff Stults) has just shacked up with nice-and-normal Julia (Rosario Dawson), a website editor and wannabe stepmom, new to small-town Southern California. Keen to reunite her family, 'psycho Barbie' starts turning up everywhere and even steals Julia's knickers to lure her violent ex back into the picture.
It's a work of bewildering idiocy set in a world where even the sane behave strangely. There's a thunderously unsubtle score, some evil vaping, a questionable application of the phrase 'circumstantial evidence', and the film goes for broke with a torrid / creepy montage where Tessa salivates over an online exchange with Julia's abuser while Julia and David bonk in a bathroom. Stults is a purely ornamental love interest, a ludicrously tanned former banker who has jacked in the megabucks for life as an independent beer brewer, a man as exasperatingly oblivious as he is insufferably smug. At the height of Julia's ordeal, she screams in his face, 'She's fucking crazy, David! Why can't you see that?!' Well, quite.
The quality of Di Novi's direction swings from B-movie to Lifetime TV-movie (see 2015's The Gift for how this kind of film should be done) and Unforgettable plunders from 'classics' of the stalker sub-genre, cycling through Fatal Attraction, Misery, Sleeping with the Enemy, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and adding Mommie Dearest to the mix. And yet Dawson and Heigl give it more than the autopilot it deserves, Cheryl Ladd is good value as Fruitcake Senior and the sting in the tail is spot-on. In fact, the film is a lot more entertaining when it cranks the histrionics all the way up to 11. Unfortunately, for the most part it's less camp, more crap.