And the award for the most foolishly brave title of the year goes to Denise Di Novi’s Unforgettable, which may also prove to be the only memorable thing about the film. A domestic thriller squarely in post-Fatal Attraction 1980s mode, it stars Katherine Heigl as spurned Stepford Wife Tessa Connover, a blond ice princess whose ex-husband, David (Geoff Stults), has found another love, the nondescript but palpably real Julia (Rosario Dawson). Tessa is the sort of woman who counts brushstrokes sitting in front of her vanity mirror, who brings a tray of snacks to every social function and then refuses to eat any of them, and who practically has to pull the skin at the back of her head to force a smile. Not that she’s in a smiling mood, especially when Julia moves in with David and starts making earnest attempts to be a good stepmother to Tessa and David’s Barbie-doll daughter, Lily (Isabella Rice).
Like most cuck or cuck-adjacent thrillers, very little effort is expended on providing the antagonist any nuance. It’s clear from scene one that Tessa is at best a passive-aggressive monster who’s new goal in life is to destroy “the other woman.” And as per the standard genre formula, even if her actions early on don’t in and of themselves suggest a crescendo of horrors to come, the facial expressions say it all. Or in the case of Heigl (giving exactly the performance the film seems to want, and reaping absolutely no reward for it), the lack of facial expressions. She’s dead behind the eyes, and the scariest thing about it is how un-scary that manages to be.
Unforgettable is disappointingly outmoded in its depiction of gaslighting, deficient in its erotic charge, and doesn’t even offer unique forms of torture for its protagonist. Anyone familiar with the days when Annie Dutton and Reva Shayne ruled Guiding Light will be decidedly unmoved when Tessa, in the moment a harried Julia decides the gloves finally have to come off, throws herself down a flight of stairs seconds before David enters the room (a strategy which, incidentally, was a whole lot funnier on the CBS soap). The truly depressing thing about a thriller as undercoocked as Unforgettable is its failure to fly on dark fantasy, its descent into utterly attainable mundanity. If genre fans can’t enjoy lurid, misogynistic catfights anymore, what’s the point?