First thing’s first, so let me just get it out of the way so we can all move on: no, the antagonist is not celery…
…What’s interesting about so many of the B-movies out there is the personal preference we all have that tends to lead us in one of two ways: 1) it’s so bad it’s good, or 2) it’s just plain bad. Many times, we’ve all seen a movie that seems like the people involved knew it was a very silly effort, and willingly lean into it, making it work on a few levels, usually the most effective one being entertainment. Stalked unfortunately falls victim to being - much like its protagonist - lost in a giant affair, pursued by, well, something.
Justin Edgar’s Stalked finds us introduced to Sam (Rebecca Rogers), a single new-mom who’s in incredible shape, stays active, and takes care of her daughter responsibly. After her friend, Berenice (Vanessa Donovan), surprises her and offers to have a night on the town while Sam’s baby’s-daddy watches their daughter, we see the gals opt for a night in, drinking wine and catching up. The next morning, Sam wakes up with a decent sized hangover, recovers in about 5 seconds flat, decides to go for a run, and immediately runs into her daughter being dropped off by the father, which lets us know a few things:
Cut to the scene where Sam is going to get medicine for her daughter, leaving her alone at home for only a few minutes. She’s on her way out and then some dude kidnaps her. Just like that. Wrong place, wrong time maybe? When Sam wakes up, she’s in a warehouse that specializes in making textiles, chains, and unsharpened lawnmower blades. Immediately upon waking, we remember Sam’s military background as she launches into survival mode, making use of her surroundings and checking for an escape. It happens fast. Extremely fast.
Now we’re going to talk about the camera work and ambience. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, this is a regular discussion. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you consider one frame of a film to be a picture: that’s a shitload of words. The camera struggles to make sense of the giant, open space the bulk of the film takes place in. We have slightly nauseating close-ups, which could have worked in a more claustrophobic space, but it’s such an off-balance perspective from the set, that tension is never really built or realized. I feel the setting could’ve worked, but everything else about it sends the film into a pigeon-hole of “I bet this is going to be like a Saw movie”… and then that kind of happens.
In a quick summary of what happens next: Sam runs into another woman, Stacey (Imogen Irving), also trapped in the warehouse and in much worse shape, claiming the need to watch out for “It”, because “It” is coming to get them. “It” appears to just be strange sound effects until the ‘invisible stealth-suit’ antagonist comes into play.
Here is where I immediately thought: self, this sounds like it would be a better survival horror video game than a movie, and I still stand by that opinion. It has all the staples of a solid survival horror game:
Stalked sounds like it could’ve been a halfway-decent to above-average survival horror video game. The acting is mediocre, but effective enough, however, the total end result feels like an idea that never came to fruition, but still made it onto the screen. It’s not a torturous experience for the viewer by any means, but it never fully commits to any particular vibe, horror trope or otherwise.
Stalked begins hunting on DVD/VOD February 4th, 2020 from Uncork’d Entertainment.
By Zach Gorecki