Stalker films have been a part of cinema almost since the beginning. Even thrillers that are not specifically about one have an element of stalking to it. The films have evolved with time and managed to remain popular. Stalker seems like it has nothing new to bring to the genre. Andy (Vincent Van Horn) leaves Austin for Los Angeles after an ugly breakup. He soon meets a rideshare driver named Roger (Michael Joplin) who wants to be a bigger part of Andy’s life than expected.
Despite the rideshare element, Stalker sounds too derivative. While the film is formulaic in some ways, it also shows how an old premise can be brought into the modern world and still be effective. This is very difficult since there have been so many variations on the theme over the years. It is one of those types of films where it is almost impossible to bring something new to the table.
For starters, the script does not lean into the tenser aspects of the story. This is not to say the movie lacks tension. Like any good tale in the genre, there is plenty of suspense and twists that keep audiences guessing. In this case, Stalker’s familiarity is comforting. We know something is not right and want to see how things get resolved.
In order to keep things from getting stale, the Stalker adds an almost black comedy tone to the relationship between Andy and Roger. The obvious comparison would be 1996’s The Cable Guy. The biggest difference here is that movie had a huge identity problem. It never went all in on the comedy or thriller aspects making it hard to accept any part of it.
Stalker brings hints of something more, but it is most definitely a movie about obsession. There is nothing funny about it and the plot demands to be taken seriously the entire time. There may be moments of levity, but Andy is dealing with a serious issue. The great chemistry between the two leads helps build this uneasy atmosphere.
Most importantly, the script stays true to its roots while telling its story in the modern world. The rideshare aspect is the most obvious difference, but it is the mood that is most important. Things remain ominous throughout the entire movie, yet never go over the top. The best stalker movies allow audiences to seamlessly put themselves in it. Obviously, Stalker is an exaggerated version, but its events can happen to any of us.
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