There’s odd stuff going on in “Obsessed,” but we’re not supposed to notice some of it. Odd, of course, is the behavior of Lisa, a temp office secretary filling in for a few days at a Los Angeles financial something-or-other that seems to be having no cash-flow problems. If the people who run the place are smart enough to have sidestepped our national economic trouble, you’d think they’d be smart enough to fire a temp who is only slightly less crazy than Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
Lisa (Ali Larter, TV’s “Heroes”) meets one of the vice presidents in the elevator. She seems nice, he seems polite “ but she sees something in him that gets her juices flowing. Derek (Idris Elba, “The Unborn”) is nice looking, but has the personality of an unmarried stamp collector with a stammer. There’s not much there, but she begins stalking him, and by the time he figures out what’s happening and tells her to knock it off because he’s married, she’s hearing every word he says as, “Let me dump my family so we can run away together.”
Derek tells a buddy at work what’s happening, but Ben (Jerry O’Connell, TV’s “Crossing Jordan”) thinks Derek must be encouraging her. After all, isn’t that how Derek and his wife, Sharon (pop singer Beonce Knowles, “Cadillac Records”), first hooked up when she was a secretary at the office? Derek’s frustration escalates slowly as Lisa becomes more and more obsessed with him.
First-time feature director Steve Shill does a relatively good job in building suspense, but does make one rookie mistake. I can tell you about it because the dummies who crafted the trailer give away the climax. Within the first few minutes of the film, Shill rubs our noses in a construction weakness in Derek’s and Sharon’s new house that we know will have to play into the last-minute fight movies like this always contain.
Larter does a nice job with the psycho bitch character. She maintains a nice balance “ we can see that Lisa is crazy because we know going in what the plot is, but we can also see how the men around her would just think that she is the common-variety office tease and not take her seriously.
The odd thing that perhaps we’re not supposed to recognize is that Derek and Sharon are not particularly likable. Sharon’s first question for her husband when she finds out there is a new temp in the office is, “Is she pretty?” Does she want to know because she, too, worked in the office to find a promising husband and she suspects every other woman of the same motivation?
When she finds out about Lisa’s pursuit of Derek, why does Sharon immediately assume that Derek is up to no good and throws him out of the house? Let’s face it: Sharon is boss and Derek is more whipped than the cream on your Jell-O salad. Screenwriter David Loughery (“Lakeview Terrace”) doesn’t address the questions he raises about this relationship.
“Obsessed” isn’t terrible, but it looks like the product of people who really want to make a thriller, but can’t take the time to make it well. Larter, who has been here before in the first two “Final Destination” pictures, knows where she’s going.