When choosing my movies for review each week, I try to think about what might interest my readers (as well as what I haven’t seen and can stomach). I also take into account the fact that not everyone heads to the theaters to see as many as me, so I try to throw Netflix originals into the mix when I can to meet the needs of every audience. When a descriptor for the July 18 release of the Netflix original “Secret Obsession” read that this was a “Lifetime movie for the Netflix crowd,” I knew I’d found a winner.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the Lifetime movie, but I’m definitely a sucker for melodrama. There’s something twisted yet glorious about a network that can make you doubt everyone from your beloved mother to the girl next door who loves your hair to your puppy that just can’t wait to cuddle on the couch with you. Just what is he hiding behind those big eyes?
“Secret Obsession” stars Brenda Song as Jennifer Williams, a young woman suffering from amnesia after being hit by a car. The film opens with Jennifer at a highway rest stop on the run from a madman with a knife. Her mad dash puts her right in front of an oncoming car. The accident leaves Jennifer in the hospital with amnesia, cuts, bruises and a severely banged-up leg.
Her husband, Russell (Mike Vogel), rushes to the hospital to be at her side when she comes out of surgery. Only problem is, her husband isn’t actually her husband, a fact the trailer lets us know before the film ever starts.
Although, the viewer would figure out something is up when the distraught husband makes himself a comfy spot to bed down in the hospital waiting room while his wife is having surgery. I’m pretty certain when your wife is caught between life and death, and you accidentally fall asleep, you don’t plan on it.
When Jennifer has recovered — a process that’s marked by the hospital food she eats (green Jello, grapes and finally chewy chicken) — Russell takes her home to their secluded house. He even makes a point of telling her the nearest neighbor is over a mile away.
Of course, things are a bit sketchy from the get-go. Russell tells Jennifer her parents are dead, she quit her job and her friends are traveling. Her phone is missing, but he gives her a new one — that has no service. His phone works, mind you, but she doesn’t think this is odd.
Meanwhile, Detective Page (Dennis Haysbert) is trying to figure out how the accident happened in the first place. Why was Jennifer at a rest stop in the middle of the night? Why was she running? Granted, Haysbert is the Allstate guy, so he’s just trying to get to the bottom of this accident claim ...
You see what I did there?
No one can get a hold of Jennifer, though. The hospital wants her to come in and do physical therapy. The detective wants to question her about the night of the accident, but she’s completely incommunicado. When Page discovers Russell gave the hospital a bogus phone number and address, he gets mighty suspicious.
Not suspicious enough to put out an APB on Jennifer, not even when the evidence and bodies begin to pile up. Honestly, that’s probably the most logical thing in the movie.
Here’s the thing: Russell’s connection to Jennifer was verified because he had photos of the two of them. Not exactly a solid ID there. But, what’s even more baffling is this entire film is built on the premise that a woman who hits her head won’t remember who her husband is. Russell shows up at the hospital not knowing Jennifer has amnesia, but he’s asking for his “wife” anyway.
Here’s a few more takeaways I made while watching the film:
• Why do they always name assisted living and retirement homes “Golden Manor,” “Shady Pines,” or “Sunny Hills”? Why do we try to make the places where people are put out to pasture seem like cheerful discos?
• Vogel was second-in-line to be the rebooted Captain Kirk (behind Chris Pine) in the franchise’s new batch of films. If he can’t even be a leading man in a Lifetime-for-Netflix movie, I’m not sure how he’d ever take on one of the most iconic roles of all time.
• When burying a dead body, it might be a good idea not to do it right outside the window where someone can see you do it.
• No one with an ankle injury wears heels if she’s still limping.
Bottom line: Netflix should stay out of the Lifetime movie genre. Song has grown up since her Disney Channel days, but overacting/bad acting is still ever present, and not even Haysbert could save this one. Are you in good hands? No, no, you’re not.