As we move out of another lockdown, the quality of films on offer has slowly gotten better. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that many of the films released this year have been lacking in quality, and sadly Stalker feels like a step back to the early months of 2021 where films were largely sub-par – and promised more than could actually deliver.
After recently splitting up with his girlfriend, Andy (Vincent Van Horn) relocates from Texas to Los Angeles. Finding it difficult to adapt to a new city, which lacks the personable feel of his home town, Andy heads to a local bar in the hope of killing the boredom. There he bumps into Sam (Christine Ko). The two hit it off and a new friendship/relationship forms for these two lonely souls. Heading home, they book a “Ryde” taxi and meet Roger (Michael Lee Joplin) – an overly personal driver who takes more than a passing interest in Andy. The next day, Andy and Roger bump into each other and agree to head for a drink later. Sadly for Andy, Roger is very full-on and won’t leave him alone. Once Andy starts to ghost Roger, a series of events spiral out of control as the new kid in town slowly has his life torn apart.
The formula that drives Stalker (previously Blinders), is one that Hollywood has been churning out for years. The likes of Cape Fear and Single White Female, to more modern efforts like The Gift and Greta, have defined the genre and taken various routes to find success. Unfortunately, Stalker finds little that is new and struggles to give audiences anything remotely enjoyable during the 86 minute runtime. The feeling that it lasts twice as long, and is a gestating period where viewers wonder if the film and its plot are actually heading anywhere, will baffle anyone willing to stick with it.
In fairness to the cast, the three main players do all they can with what they are given, but the plot and its direction are all too willing to amble along with no real destination in sight. In director Tyler Savage’s second film, it becomes apparent where the film is heading – and despite some nice touches, it is clear that there will be more than one twist here. Savage’s use of social media works well. Without commenting too much on how technology and the likes of Instagram have changed our lives, Savage instead uses it to highlight how easily it is for someone to view our lives without being a part of it and how they can manipulate things to a show a version of us to the world that isn’t actually our true self.
Despite its informed use of technology and Michael Lee Joplin’s turn as psychopath Roger, Stalker too often feels like an opportunity missed. And more than that, it is simply numbingly boring – and that cannot be forgiven.
Stalker is available now.