The Trashy Pantheon: Is "Obsessed" the New "Showgirls"?

by Kurt Soller

Confession: I'm obsessed with Obsessed.

As I was typing an e-mail to my co-workers about the saturation of coverage, I almost didn't mention that I spent my Friday night watching a different movie-- You know, the Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter thriller with the terrible previews, the same one that topped the box offices when it opened two weekends ago. It's since earned $56.2 million, which means that enough people have now seen it that I should hardly be embarrassed.

Every now and then, a cult movie comes along that's tailor made for screaming audiences who guffaw at things--like, say, adultery--that aren't actually that funny. Usually, these movies combine adult horror with raw sexuality; Snakes on a Plane was rated R for all the gore. Before that, Showgirls rose to video prominence, making millions on home sales after it became the first NC-17 film in wide release. Both those became quick and trashy classics, but Obsessed takes this trope one step further: it's PG-13. In short, all the sex is sexy without turning too raunchy (clever editing, folks) and all the violence is teeth-gritting without being scary. God forbid we mess up Beyonce's expensive hair.

But, mostly, what the PG-13 rating does to this movie is make it campy, not creepy. That aspect is so well executed that you'll be rolling on the floor, whether it's watching Ali Larter literally meow at the man she's stalking (Idris Elba), or hearing Beyonce squawk, "You think you're crazy? I'll show you crazy," before tackling the stalker. All these scenes are played with such high energy and pseudo-seriousness that it's unclear whether the actors realize how ludicrously silly this all is. Many critics noted this, adding that the movie is no more than a low-rent version of Fatal Attraction. That's true, but they left out one part: instead of being jarred when you leave the theater, you'll be jubilant.