Secret Obsession May Resemble Misery & Other Thrillers, But It's A Brand New Story

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Spoilers for Secret Obsession are ahead.
Have you watched Netflix’s latest psychological thriller Secret Obsession yet? Apparently everyone on Twitter has. The movie has fans chattering about how much they love Brenda Song (who stars as Jennifer Williams), about how Mike Vogel (as “Russell Williams”) is a hot but also pretty sloppy criminal, and about how the trailer gave away the plot. But where did this melodramatic Netflix movie come from? Is there some source material Secret Obsession is based on that we can thank for this Thursday treat?
Well, we looked into that last question for you, devoted psychological thriller fans! Secret Obsession was co-written by Peter Sullivan (who also directed and produced) and Kraig Wenman. Sullivan has a ton of Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies to his name, and Wenman’s written for a number of TV shows and movies, too — including a host of psychological thrillers. These two are experienced when it comes to getting an audience to tune in, whether they’re sucked in by a sweet holiday-themed romance or a terrifying cyberstalker.
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As for Secret Obsession, Sullivan and Wenman haven’t commented publicly about their inspiration, as far as we know. Though the movie may feel like a spiritual successor to something like You, the Lifetime-turned-Netflix show about a seriously creepy (and murderous) stalker (Penn Badgley) that took the streaming platform by storm earlier in 2019, the two don’t seem to have any direct connection. And aside from some not-super-covert stalking and murder, they aren’t that similar in plot, either.
There are certainly some plot similarities between Secret Obsession and Before I Go to Sleep, a 2014 movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, based on a book by the same name — though in that story, the protagonist Christine’s memory resets every single morning. It also shares some pieces of the plot of The Girl on the Train, a 2016 movie starring Emily Blunt in which the protagonist's memory issues are a result of alcohol addiction and purposefully planted false memories.
Song herself described Secret Obsession in a recent interview as a “new twist to Misery,” and there are a few elements that feel reminiscent of the infamous 1990 Kathy Bates starrer (based on a Stephen King novel of the same name). Between the obsession, the kidnapping, the cabin in a remote location, and the focus on Song’s injured ankle throughout, visions of Bates breaking her captive's (James Caan) ankle aren't that far off. But it seems like that may just be Song’s comparison, as Sullivan and Wenman haven’t said anything about whether or not the classic thriller inspired Secret Obsession.
So while there’s a grand tradition of psychological thrillers out there featuring a stalker and some form of amnesia, and while Secret Obsession fits in nicely in the genre as a whole, it's not so much a remake as a movie that couldn't exist without its predecessors.
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