The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - STALKER | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - STALKER

An actress finds herself stuck in an elevator with a sinister cameraman.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Steve Johnson

Starring: Sophie Skelton, Stuart Brennan, Bret Hart

stalker poster

If you're shooting a movie on a limited budget, keeping your cast as small as possible and confining them to a single location always makes sense from an economic perspective. The trouble is, such movies can often feel stagy, as though we're watching a filmed play rather than a movie. Films of this nature rely heavily on captivating dialogue and performances. Director Steve Johnson's single location thriller Stalker certainly boasts captivating performances but the dialogue is functional at best, cringey at worst, and is too often relied on to move the story forward.

stalker review

Johnson puts his cast of two in a confined location, in this case a broken hotel elevator. Actress (or as she insists, "actor") Rose (Sophie Skelton) has had a tough day on the set of a horror movie dealing with a "hands-on" director (played in flashback by wrestling legend Bret Hart). Entering her hotel lift alongside her is a nervous man, Daniel (Stuart Brennan), who it turns out is the b-roll camera operator on Rose's film. When the lift gets jammed, the two begin to awkwardly bond over on-set stories, particularly that of the actress whose role Rose took over when she mysteriously disappeared.

The longer the pair remain trapped, the more abrasive their interactions become however. Initially shy and awkward (this is signified with lazy shortcuts like spectacles and an asthma inhaler), Daniel begins to stand up for himself in a manner Rose seemingly isn't accustomed to. He appears to be hiding something, but then Rose doesn't seem entirely innocent herself. Just what are these two up to, and who is the stalker of the title?

stalker review

Unfortunately you can see the late twist coming from a mile away, meaning Stalker drags somewhat in its middle portion as it slowly teases a reveal that you're all too aware is coming. Amid Rose and Daniel's cat and mouse squabbling, Johnson and writer Chris Watt strive for timely Me-Too relevance with some clunky speechifying from Rose about her lot as a woman in a man's industry. Some of her lines on the subject read like a bad Twitter thread.

stalker review

Thankfully, Skelton and Brennan possess enough talent to convincingly inhabit their roles and add an extra dimension to the functional script. Skelton is particularly skilful in conveying her character's gradual personality transformation. Stalker may be lacking in innovation behind the camera but the two faces before it have come away with an impressive acting showreel.

Stalker is on UK/ROI VOD/DVD from October 10th.

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