The Stalker is about precisely what the title implies. Wendy Hamilton’s (Virginia Vogt) stalker calls her all hours of the day, threatening her and her family. He sends flowers to her address, and eventually, Wendy reaches her breaking point. After a particularly eerie phone call, Wendy calls the police, but they can’t do anything unless a specific threat or assault occurs.
Rattled, Wendy hears something outside and goes to defend herself, accidentally shooting a meter maid. Though it was an accident, she’s scared of being arrested, so she convinces her husband, Steve (Chad Ayers), and their two teenage boys, Hayden (Jimmy Ace Lewis) and Josh (J. Gaven Wilde), to head to their lake house. But, the stalker knew they’d be going there and was waiting. Why is this person stalking Wendy? Can she keep herself and her family safe?
Director John Giorgio ably establishes a tense and foreboding atmosphere… after the prologue, that is. The Stalker opens with Steve firing an employee on sexual harassment charges. But, those charges are made-up so that Steve can add that person’s bonuses to his. The money trouble the Hamiltons face is never alluded to or referenced again. And because it is never really established, this angle rings false. Also, no points for guessing that the fired employee is the stalker, as that is easily figured out after the opening credits when the movie jumps ahead one year.
“Wendy Hamilton’s stalker calls her all hours of the day, threatening her and her family.”
While the main issue here is Michelle Lewis’ script, Giorgio does himself no favors as he switches perspective on a dime. The audience is never shown the employee’s face, and to do that, the movie jumps between a typical observant camera and the employee’s point of view. It is jarring and odd, though the need to conceal the killer’s face hidden makes sense. But this entire section could be cut out, and refocus the beginning on Wendy first getting stalked, maybe have the family move to a new house as a way to (hopefully) stop it.
However, once it gets underway, it proves to be an eerie little flick, with enough red herrings to throw one’s guesses for a loop. A handful of side characters, living by the lake house, are eccentric and creepy enough to effectively be potential suspects. What the movie’s screenplay lacks in character development, it makes up for in intense, involving sequences. Wendy goes out to get donuts for breakfast, and an overzealous person begs to open the shop door for her. While in line, he may or may not be writing down Wendy’s address. It is genuinely unnerving.
Giorgio’s direction keeps the tension escalating, even when the characters do questionable things. Like, why, if hiding out from a stalker, would Wendy be the one going into town, versus Steve or Hayden (who I think is old enough to drive, though maybe not)? Or how come Wendy believes that a person who knocks on her door is a police officer just because he looks like one? She never asks for a badge or ID. It strains credibility.
Still, Giorgio proves his mettle as a director, despite the logical lapses in the script, as The Stalker is an engrossing, eerie affair. I greatly look forward to his next project, especially if the writing is up to snuff.
"…Giorgio's direction keeps the tension escalating, even when the characters do questionable things."