The "psycho-ex from hell" could be a film genre all to itself considering how many times that particular field has been mined for material. Unforgettable is the most recent entrant in the category and while it's certainly walking on ground that's been covered before, there's always the opportunity for a new entry to stand out by doing something particularly new or unexpected. Unfortunately, Unforgettable will likely not live up to its title, as it simply doesn't do anything that will cause audiences to remember it.
Unforgettable opens with Julie Banks (Rosario Dawson) in a police interrogation room. She's beaten and bloodied, but the police don't seem particularly interested in helping her. The man who apparently beat her up was a man she had a restraining order against, but the police say they have Facebook messages showing that she had initiated contact and invited him to the house. Now he's apparently dead and the police want answers from her.
From there we flash back to six months previously. Julia is leaving her job at a San Francisco Bay Area tech firm to move to L.A. to live with her new boyfriend, David Connover (Geoff Stults) and his daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). Along with them, however, comes David's ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl). Tessa is always properly dressed and her makeup is always perfect. It's clear that she's having a hard time dealing with her divorce, but when Tessa discovers that David and Julie are getting married, it pushes her over the edge and Tessa begins a plot to destroy her perceived romantic rival.
The film's first problem is that it tips its hand early. By showing us the results of Tessa's plot at the outset, the audience is already prepared for what's to come. If the characters were interesting or developed enough to carry the story themselves, watching the setup might be worthwhile, but they're not. We also lose any tension regarding how most of the story might play out. We're told what literally every plot point is going to be at the outset, which means there are no surprises. We just sit and wait for things to get going.
But once they finally do... actually, even then, things move excruciatingly slow. Characters fall into predictable patterns. People who should believe Julie when she says Tessa is losing it don't. People don't reveal information they have at the right time. Even when some lies are confirmed, others are still believed for reasons that are never explained. The reason for all this, of course, is that if Julie had literally any support, the movie would never make it to its finale. A finale which requires our diabolical villain to inexplicably become an idiot for no reason.
Every time Unforgettable seems ready to cut loose and jump into its recognizably ridiculous premise with both feet, it stops short. The movie seems afraid to commit because it wants to be taken seriously, but that ship sailed as soon as the movie started. Katherine Heigl's "ice queen" brand of insanity is given a decent enough explanation, but the movie feels like it desperately wants to go off the deep end, and it probably would have been better served to do so.
Nobody was likely expecting Unforgettable to break new ground with its premise, but failing that the movie at least had the opportunity to create some "holy shit" moments that could get people talking. Instead, we get a paint by numbers thriller that will be forgotten once the next carbon copy thriller comes along.