Harris (Jack Cutmore-Scott), a brash, successful internet advertising copywriter uses a dating app and a patented routine to meet, bed then ditch a string of beautiful young women. All goes well for Harris until he swipes right and matches with Riley (Lilli Simmons) who unlike his past conquests refuses to go away quietly.
Promoted as "Fatal Attraction for the Tinder generation" (were people really asking for that?), Bad Match puts at least one neat twist on a well-worn conceit but is otherwise undone by uncertain execution. Clint Eastwood arguably made the definitive nightmare romance with Play Misty for Me (1971), a film more challenging, nuanced and unsettling than either Fatal Attraction or its too often silly descendants like Swimfan (2002). In its attempt to critique the inherent callousness of the male playboy psyche whilst pandering to their own neuroses about 'unstable' women, Bad Match ends up unintentionally evoking older, more overtly misogynistic Italian sexploitation thrillers like Emmanuelle e Francoise le sorelline (1976) and The Trap (1985).
Writer-director David Chirchirillo establishes his protagonist as such a smarmy, self-satisfied 'love 'em and leave 'em' womanizer his downfall draws no sympathy, despite Jack Cutmore-Scott's efforts to imbue Harris with some boyish charm. And a streak of laddish humour presumably meant to endear him to twenty-something male viewers? He is certainly ripe for humiliation at the hands of Riley whose 'crazy' behaviour escalates from obsessive texting and 'luring' Harris into exciting sex to prank calls to his workplace, a fake suicide attempt and eventually planting child porn on his computer. Or does she? Parts of Bad Match play interesting games with both the protagonist's own paranoia and viewer expectations for thrillers about psychotic 'bunny-boilers', maintaining a level of ambiguity as to who exactly is the crazy person in this twisted scenario. As friends repeatedly tell Harris his callous treatment of women was bound to have consequences although the script tellingly has him defend his actions with a sweeping critique of contemporary sexual mores ("Nobody uses dating apps to find love").
To the filmmaker's credit, whereas Fatal Attraction lets Michael Douglas off the hook, Chirchirillo makes a point of having Harris remain as much of an unrepentant, self-entitled asshole as he was while on top. In a bid for revenge Harris also ends up becoming an even bigger creep, resorting to highly questionable methods in order to prove his innocence. Although Chirchirillo switches the viewer's sympathies fairly cleverly events grow increasingly unpleasant and worse yet, thematically muddled. Though Bad Match foists a moralistic sting in the tail upon the male protagonist it is problematically at the woman's expense and frankly none too clear about what that moral is meant to be. The film's darkly humourous tone often borders on cartoonish which renders an increasingly outlandish plot hard to take seriously. If the characters are not exactly engaging, the performances are solid both from Cutmore-Scott and Lilli Simmons', building her resumé of alluringly ambiguous characters on television shows like True Detective, Ray Donovan and Banshee.