Stoker Hills fares better with the two police detectives. As Adams and Stafford are waiting to talk to Dr. Brooks at the hospital, one of them says that they need to call their wife and let her know he won’t be home anytime soon to help change their kid’s diapers. It’s a sweet little bit of dialogue that reveals the inner life of the detective, something that is sorely missing from the other characters. The problem? I am not sure who said it between the two policemen, and it is never brought up again.
Yet, despite having less screentime than anyone else, Dr. Brooks is the only one who comes across as truly having any depth. Perhaps it is because of the connection character has to his daughter, Dani (Tyler Clark), who becomes embroiled in the killer’s scheme. It could be that his dialogue, while all exposition, sounds the most realistic. Maybe it is Beasley’s sheer gravitas and commanding screen presence that brings a lot of pathos to the role, that makes Dr. Brooks so compelling.
“…Beasley’s sheer gravitas and commanding screen presence…brings a lot of pathos to the role…”
This isn’t to imply that the rest of the cast of Stoker Hills is less than capable, as they all do what they can. Even though they don’t have much to work with, each actor is able to remain distinctive and engaging. When Erica tells Ryan that none of this is his fault, as the two are convinced they are about to die, their fear and love for each other resonate more than expected.
The alternating style hampers the build-up of tension at times, so the horror flick is rarely unnerving or scary. But it does sport a few creepy scenes, chiefly involving the two detectives following one particular character near the end. Plus, a lot of the humor works very well. For example, the ending of the “diaper duty” scene mentioned earlier is that the detective who said it tells his partner that he’d prefer this, as changing a baby is much worse (not a direct quote). Much earlier, Ryan and Jake go to Erica’s house to pick her up for the night shoot. Her sister keeps pestering the two for a part, while Ryan has to explain the title (Street Walkers) to Erica’s unenthused father. Both are amusing, and the production would have benefitted from more humor throughout.
Stoker Hills is nowhere near being downright terrible, or even all that unwatchable. But, it is disappointing and unremarkable. The actors are all trying, and Beasley succeeds, but the lack of character development doesn’t give them much to work with. When combined with the style shifts that suck the tension out of the room, even when factoring the solid humor, all that is left is a title that is instantly forgettable.
"…a horror-thriller that's one-half found footage and one-half serial killer police procedural."