Psycho in the Family
The names Jessica Guzman and Alex Henriquez mean nothing to me but that doesn't surprise me as whilst it appears they were news in America they were not news here in the UK. They were news because Alejandro "Alex" Henriquez was tried for the murder of three girls and this story is what inspires "Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story" a made for TV movie which stars John Stamos and Cynthia Gibb. Now not having heard of the case "Fatal Vows" ends up playing like a made for TV thriller and as such it has some of the usual problems which affect TV movies but it has something else, good performances and atmosphere which thankfully means that whilst there are scenes which make you cringe for the most it sucks you in to this story of a dangerous man.
Single mother Alexandra O'Hara (Cynthia Gibb - The Karen Carpenter Story) meets the charming Nick (John Stamos - Wedding Wars) when she misses her bus and he offers to give her a ride. Whilst cautious of starting a relationship after a troubled previous marriage Alexandra falls for Nick's charms and believes him when he says is an undercover cop. Soon they get married after Nick introduces her to his family but that is when the cracks start to show as Nick becomes controlling and violent, not just towards Alexandra but also her son. But with his constant threats Alexandra is powerless to do anything even when she suspects he is involved in murders.
So let's start with the obvious and that being with "Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story" being a made for TV movie it has the usual array of problems. When we meet Nick's family they come across as a cliche American-Italian family to the point of being caricatures. Then there are some gaping holes in the plot which make the character of Alexandra appear to do things which don't really make sense especially when it comes to her being controlled by Nick. And I could go on because there are the usual other issues with over acting, corny dialogue and much more.
But the thing if that despite having the usual flaws "Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story" is still highly watchable and sucks you in to this drama. The reason why comes from the performances with firstly Cynthia Gibb doing a solid job of playing Alexandra, making her interesting despite the flaws in the writing of the character. It is the same with Ben Gazzara who as Nick's father comes across as a cliche but an unsettling one at that.
Then there is John Stamos as Nick and this is one great performance from Stamos delivering a very unnerving character. It has this nice build up as we see little things early on such as moving a wine glass because it isn't in the precise spot and the little caresses which seem almost intrusive; you get that sense that he's not the nice guy he seems to be. But the longer the movie goes on the more Stamos cranks it up to become truly evil as we witness his controlling and nasty side including a suggestive moment of abuse towards Alexandra's son. It is Stamos's performance more than what happens which makes the movie and you genuinely are on edge because you are never sure what he will do next.
What this all boils down to is that for the most "Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story" is just another TV movie inspired by a true story but it features compelling performances especial from John Stamos which draws you in to the drama.