FEARNET Movie Review: 'Missionary'


missionaryIt'd be easy to look at the premise for Missionary and dismiss it as little more than an indie rendition of Fatal Attraction -- with a Mormon twist -- and that's because the film is little more than (yet another) rendition of Fatal Attraction, this time with a basic (yet slightly interesting) religious angle. What it lacks in originality the film makes up for in a strong visual style and a few worthwhile performances... but yeah. It's Fatal Attraction in new clothes.

And yet, if the idea of an indie-style gender-reversal Fatal Attraction (with a religious twist) sounds appealing to you, well, it's not like Anthony DiBlasi's Missionary is a bad movie. It's well-made and actually pretty compelling; it's just that you know precisely where the film is headed within 15 minutes, and (aside from a few quiet and oddly poignant moments between the two leads) Missionary never once diverts from the Fatal Attraction formula. Actually it's more like the Play Misty for Me formula, and I'm sure it goes back even further than that. Let's just call it the "spurned lover thriller" and get on with it.
Even without a few other assets (mostly found in Act III), Missionary would be noteworthy for the lead performance of Dawn Olivieri. What could have been just a simple "bored mom with an estranged husband" character is, instead, quietly compelling and instantly worthy of our empathy. Mitch Ryan, as the well-meaning Mormon missionary who slowly transforms into a jealous nutcase, is also quite good (as is Kip Pardue as the estranged husband!), but it's Ms. Olivieri that keeps Missionary interesting through even its most familiar segments. And man it does get familiar.
To their credit, director Anthony DiBlasi (Dread) and screenwriters Bruce Wood and Scott Polley make no bones about treading familiar ground. You know most of what Missionary has in store before you hit play, but the final product is still a well-crafted and efficient little thriller. Whether or not Missionary will prove offensive to people of the Mormon persuasion, I cannot say. The filmmakers seem to have a problem with people who force their views on other people, but there are some good Mormons in the film as well. 
Plus Mormons don't really watch horror movies, do they?