The best horror stories are often rooted somewhere in reality. The idea that the events being portrayed in a film or book could possibly happen to you only makes them all the more terrifying to consider. I mean, sure – zombies and vampires are neat, but nobody over the age of ten is actually afraid of them. It is common knowledge that they don’t exist, so there is no genuine, plausible threat to keep you up at night. This comforting degree of separation serves to cushion you from the impact of what you’re seeing, making it all much easier to digest. So, while these fantastic tales are undoubtedly amusing to watch, they rarely ever manage to rattle the viewer on any visceral level.
It is an undeniable fact: the times have changed, and so have the audiences. Although movies like Frankenstein and The Wolfman – as truly excellent as they may be – once shocked and horrified people to the core, they are now considered fairly tame compared to their modern counterparts. While these films can often be beautiful, moving, or sometimes even inspiring, they simply aren’t scary. They are just not believable enough to elicit that sort of response – and this is precisely where contemporary projects like Stalker come into play.
Stalker is about a young man named Andy (Vincent Van Horne), who has just found himself the target of some very unwanted attention. Having only recently left his hometown of Dallas for the sunny shores of LA, Andy is a fish out of water looking to begin his life anew. At first glance, everything seems to be going well; he has an apartment of his own, exciting new job prospects, and has even met a girl (Christine Ko). At this stage of the story, the world appears to be his oyster – that is, until things take a sudden and drastic turn for the worse. After befriending a local ride-share driver (Michael Lee Joplin), Andy gradually discovers that his new pal has more in mind for their budding relationship than just sharing a few beers. No, it would seem that the psychotic Roger actually wants to dismantle Andy’s entire life, brick by brick, and will stop at nothing to do so.
For the first hour of the film, Stalker comes out swinging, with an incredibly effective presentation of a deeply unsettling concept. Identity theft is a very real danger, and the idea that somebody is watching you with malicious intent is an uncomfortable one, to say the least. Everything that happens in this movie could – and sadly, does – occur in real life. When pairing this with Joplin’s profoundly eerie performance as Roger, Stalker makes for some pretty intense nightmare fuel.
Although the film does, unfortunately, peter out a bit at the end, it doesn’t keep Stalker from being a title that is definitely worth looking into. The gripping story, entrancing camera work, and outstanding acting more than make up for any of the movie’s discernable shortcomings. A brilliantly tense look at obsession and evil for its own sake, Stalker is sure to make you feel at least a little wary of strangers after seeing it.
L.J. Lewis is a horror entertainment journalist and reviewer based out of Ontario, Canada. He currently writes for HorrorBuzz and Cultsploitation but has also contributed his work to HauntedMTL, Daily Dead, and Rue Morgue.
When he isn't writing, he can usually be found sewing pilfered body parts together in his underground lair.