It’s been mere weeks since HBO’s elegant whodunit Big Little Lies rejected the clichés of female rivalry in favor of sisterhood and womanly camaraderie. Yet those dramatic crutches are back with a vengeance in producer-turned-director Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable, a film as outrageously psychopathic and hysterical as misogynistic thrillers of decades past. Even the on-paper premise—crazy divorcée won’t let her ex-husband move on—gives one immediate pause. Can such an archaic, catty exercise really exist in 2017? Turns out, just like Bill O’Reilly, it can.
Among the film’s numerous victims are Julia (Rosaria Dawson, who deserves better), a laid-back online editor and domestic-abuse survivor who’s recently relocated to heavenly Southern California to be with rugged, dreamboat beer-brewer David (Geoff Stults). If only he didn’t come with a side dish of an uptight, deranged ex-wife named Tessa (a comically stiff Katherine Heigl), an obsessively jealous, seemingly flawless “psycho Barbie” who will stop at nothing to poison Julia’s new life, even if it means implicating her unnerved ex. Caught in this nightmarish crossfire is sweet Lily (Isabella Kai Rice), Tessa’s angelic daughter with David.
What follows is straight from the bunny-boiler playbook of Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: unstable stalking, vicious competition, a punishingly predictable ending. In fairness, given the sheer ridiculousness on display, Unforgettable also involves a healthy amount of unintentional laughs, so perhaps it’s not a complete waste of time. Just don’t expect another Gone Girl with its updated spin on female villainy, retaliating against a lifetime of impossible standards of perfection. This one’s unforgettable indeed, just not for the right reasons.