Starring: Brenda Song, Mike Vogel, Dennis Haysbert
Director: Peter Sullivan
Running Time: 97 mins
Secret Obsession is an American film about a woman who finds herself without her memories after waking up from a car accident, and begins to feel unsettled when she finally gets home with her husband.
I can’t tell you that Secret Obsession is the world’s most exhilarating thriller. Nor can I say it’s the most unpredictable, the best directed, the best acted, or even the most engrossing. However, while it isn’t an all-time classic, I can’t deny the fact that I had really good fun with it, thanks to fast pacing, a heightened, almost Hitchcockian style of drama, and a story that’s simple enough to just sit back and enjoy.
And that’s where I want to start off, because while the film doesn’t do its job of masking its big reveals at any point, it’s simple enough that you can figure it all out in the first fifteen minutes, and then sit back and watch the fireworks go off. That extreme predictability of course means it lacks the punch and tension that it’s often going for, but the premise works well enough with you already knowing what’s going to happen for it to still be equally entertaining to watch the characters work it out on screen.
Of course, I won’t spoil the story for you here, but it’s blatantly obvious after watching for about 20 minutes, and the screenplay only shoots itself in the foot when it comes to misdirecting your attention with the goal of an exciting twist ending.
But while Secret Obsession is far from a masterclass in suspense and unpredictability, it does more than enough when it comes to giving you a good time, and that’s almost entirely down to its excellent pacing.
Equally poor films would have tried to make up for the lack of a good screenplay with arty, pretentious attempts at building tension, something that would only lead to total boredom, but Secret Obsession goes all out with rapid pacing and quick-fire action that actually makes a mediocre really quite entertaining to watch at times.
Its often melodramatic performances do leave a little to be desired at times, but there’s no denying that director Peter Sullivan does a great job at making this story as energetic and entertaining to watch on screen, with the pace ramping up deliciously throughout even when the story itself is going nowhere.
And finally, one of the reasons that you can’t help but like this film is because it is bathed in influence from Hitchcock. It’s a pale imitation of the master of suspense, but with a number of references to the great director’s works, including Rebecca, Suspicion and most of all Psycho, there’s so much to point out and enjoy for any Hitchcock fan – a pleasant bonus for a film that at first appears like little more than very average modern horror fare.
Overall, I was rather pleasantly surprised by Secret Obsession. In reality, it’s not the world’s greatest film, and it lacks anything in the way of an unpredictable, gripping thriller screenplay. However, with fast pacing, a simple, easy story and a handful of delightful Hitchcock references and homages, there’s a really surprising amount to enjoy about the film, ultimately delivering a mediocre story with really enjoyable energy, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.