Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction. Paramount Pictures 1987.
Fatal Attraction. Paramount Pictures 1987.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve gotten the idea that this movie is kind of horror-drama about a stalker. Glenn Close’s character is obsessed with Michael Douglas and ruining his life in the name of “love”. The greatest insight I’ve seen into it is an episode of Family Matters where a character sees that Steve Urkel’s girlfriend’s bedroom is wallpapered with pictures of Steve and comments “You should rent Fatal Attraction. It’s about you.”

My description makes it sound more like Misery, but that’s all about a fan keeping an author captive, while I don’t think there’s captivity here, except maybe using the man’s family as hostages or something. This might have an element of action, which Misery wouldn’t.

After watching the movie:

While his wife and daughter are away for the weekend, Dan Gallagher falls into an affair with Alex Forrest, a charming woman from the publisher his law firm works with. After a few days of passion, he has to end it when his family comes back, which Alex isn’t ready for at all. When he tries to leave she slits her wrists to get him to stay. She calls him at work until he has his secretary stop letting her through. Then she calls him at home to demand he meet her, and tells him she’s pregnant. She refuses to get an abortion, and insists that she’s going to raise the child, and that he will raise it with her. And she’ll use any means necessary to get him to live up to his “responsibilities”.

I would definitely classify this as a horror film, right down to some details of the conclusion I won’t go into. It’s a much more personal horror story than what I tend to think of as horror, though. The “monster” is part of his life. He had a brief affair with the wrong person and created a monster. I was wrong, however, about having much action. The only things fast-paced about this movie are the relationship at the beginning and the final moments of the finale, instead focusing on building tension. We’re never quite sure what Alex is going to do next (although I had grim expectations for the rabbit the moment I saw it).

I’d gotten the impression before seeing the movie that Alex would have been a dalliance from Dan’s past, before marriage, who tries to push back into his life. While that might make an interesting story too, it was a somewhat naive assumption of mine. The fact that the whole thing springs from an act of adultery adds a tension to the plot as he tries to hide his mistake from his family, and also brings in a horror element of getting just desserts for his promiscuity. It even makes the affair itself, which takes a good 20-30 minutes of the story, tense, because he is doing something wrong and might get caught.

I think I’ve seen something with Glenn Close as a love interest type before, but I can’t put a name to it. I know her better later, in non-sexualized roles like Cruella DeVil or Albert Nobbs, or in animation. It’s rather odd to see her in this kind of role. Similarly, I’m sure I’ve seen Michael Douglas in drama, but all I can think of is Romancing the Stone. He’s well-suited to drama, though.


Watch this movie: and be glad you don’t know anyone that bad.

Don’t watch this movie: for very much or very light sex or violence. It’s graphic, but brief.

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