Plot: After a home invasion in which she was bound and terrorized, Arden (Ashley Scott) knows she needs to take some kind of action, as she is haunted by the event and feels quite helpless. As she doesn’t want to have a gun in her house, she opts to take a self defense course, but not a martial arts class to learn discipline and honor, but a down and dirty self defense class. The instructor Logan (David Cade) is intense and uses some in your face methods, but his results are inarguable. Even after one quick visit to the class, she has learned a way to escape from a much stronger attacker, so she makes the class a regular part of her routine. As time passes, she continues to hone her skills and even sparks a friendship with Logan, which soon leads to potential romance. He shares a horrific story about how his wife was killed and that led him to teach self defense, but soon his actions take a darker turn. He stages a mock kidnapping and terrifies Arden, who distances herself soon after. But will Logan leave her alone or is he determined to test her survival skills, regardless of the consequences?
Entertainment Value: Lifetime has given us stalkers of all kinds, from teachers to bosses to exes, so it makes sense to have a creepy self defense instructor. David Cade plays our stalker and while he is clearly unstable, he seems to at least have some lesson plan in mind, as opposed to most creepers who just pursue sex or attention. The narrative in Fatal Defense is convoluted, as little time is taken to explain Logan’s obsession with either dying or killing his students, beyond a super fast monologue about his wife’s death, which doesn’t seem to explain much. But this is Lifetime, so to expect things to always make sense is a fool’s errand. Cade’s performance is solid, but he never pushes the role to the extreme, so he comes off as either a nice stalker or a twisted nice guy, which is an odd choice. Ashley Scott’s transition into a street fighter is hilarious, while the supporting cast includes Sherilyn Fenn and a wild, bug eyed burglar who doesn’t hide his spoils well. The story is laughable, but the drama is decent and the dynamic between Logan and Arden is a fun watch. I do wish things were taken to a more overly Lifetime level, but it is what it is. So if you’re a fan of stalker/obsession driven Lifetime movies, this one isn’t too bad.
No nakedness. A tad bit of blood, but not much. A gunshot wound provides a little red stuff, but otherwise the violence is limited to some hand to hand combat. The fight scenes aren’t spectacular, but to be fair are a step above the typical throwdowns seen on Lifetime. This movie has an obsessed stalker and a woman on the brink of madness, but the dialogue keeps things mostly reserved. Even in intense moments, the tone remains serious and mostly grounded. This is going to be good for some viewers, but the movie doesn’t provide immense melodrama or over the top moments like Lifetime movies are known for. A few lines stick out, but not many. Again, I know that this less dramatic approach is going to please some viewers and I appreciate that, but I prefer a wilder, more over the top style. In terms of craziness, Fatal Defense shows signs of almost going for broke, but the movie always reels in back in. Logan’s dogged obsession teeters on the brink, but stays held back. So if you’re into less melodramatic Lifetime movies, you’ll be please, but otherwise, it will likely a little too reined in. I think one point is in order, just for how dumb some of the plot elements are.
Overall Insanity: 1/10