Netflix's New Erotic Thriller Aimed to Be 'Basic Instinct', Became Its Worst Movie Ever Instead

Netflix's New Erotic Thriller Aimed to Be 'Basic Instinct', Became Its Worst Movie Ever Instead
Image credit: Netflix, Legion-Media

Tyler Perry's ode to the erotic thrillers of the '80s and '90s failed to resonate with critics and audiences.


  • On February 23, the Netflix library was updated with a new Tyler Perry movie, Mea Culpa.
  • It references once-popular erotic thrillers but has proven to be one of the most poorly received movies on Netflix.
  • However, those familiar with Tyler Perry projects know that Mea Culpa shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Erotic thrillers were the dominant genre of the 1980s and 1990s: just think of Michael Douglas movies like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, in which he found himself entangled in wild criminal (and incredibly passionate) relationships with Glenn Close and Sharon Stone, respectively.

The genre has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, as filmmakers have increasingly begun to revisit it. However, most of the modern reimaginings, including Deep Water with Ben Affleck, Olivia Wilde 's Don't Worry Darling or Obsession with Richard Armitage and Charlie Murphy, are dull, unoriginal, and, as a result, complete disasters.

And now, filmmaker Tyler Perry, known for his dramatic films such as A Jazzman's Blues as well as comedies featuring the character Madea, has unveiled his latest project: Mea Culpa, a movie that effectively blends the genres of legal drama and erotic thriller.

When asked by Collider why he decided to make a movie specifically in this genre, Perry said that his 'mother loved those erotic thrillers,' though he hopes that 'people who are much younger and who have never even seen these kinds of movies will be introduced to one.'

Well, one's mum might actually like the movie, but younger generations probably won't, as Mea Culpa managed to become one of the most bombed movies on Netflix just days after its release.

What Is Tyler Perry's New Erotic Thriller About?

The movie revolves around Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland), a talented lawyer hired to represent Zyair (Trevante Rhodes), an artist charged with the murder of his romantic partner. However, Mea's life is also in turmoil, and as she tries to determine Zyair's guilt, she realizes that everyone involved in the case is guilty, including herself. After all, her husband's brother, with whom Mea already has a strained relationship, is on the side of the prosecution.

In fact, the plot references 1985's Jagged Edge, in which Glenn Close's character, also a lawyer, becomes involved in a love affair with her client, played by Jeff Bridges, who is accused of murdering his wife. Except the plot of Mea Culpa is more in the vein of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct.

One of the Worst Scores on Netflix

Mea Culpa was released on February 23 and almost immediately shot to the top of Netflix's popularity charts: According to What's on Netflix, the Tyler Perry film was number three in Netflix's top 25 movies worldwide as of February 24, and it was the number one most-watched movie on Netflix among U.S. users. Unfortunately, all the attention surrounding the new release has led to an equally disappointing experience.

Although only 13 reviews from professional critics are listed on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, the score is still quite disappointing - just a measly 13%. By comparison, one of Netflix's worst projects, 2017's Death Note, received a 36% score from critics. Audience opinion is slightly higher, at 37%, but still not enough to certify the movie as 'fresh'.

But Is It Really That Bad?

The movie is perhaps a little too cheesy and full of ridiculousness. Kelly Rowland and Trevante Rhodes have no chemistry on screen, and the sex scenes are as unappealing and cold as the paint sequence. The dialogue is overly soapy, the subplots are irrelevant, and the ending is insane and unrealistic. But isn't that what Perry's oeuvre is all about?

Those familiar with his track record know that some of the filmmaker's projects shouldn't be taken too seriously, just as he probably doesn't take them seriously himself. His stories aren't meant to be believable, and Mea Culpa could be a good pulpy movie for a night out with a group of friends who don't mind watching a B-movie.

Source: Collider.