25th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘Stalked’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Rebecca Rogers, Nathalie Buscombe, Laurence Saunders, Ian Sharp, Stephen Uppal, Vanessa Donovan, Imogen Irving, Amber Edgar, Billy Cooke | Written and Directed by Justin Edgar

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Written and Directed by Justin Edgar (We Are The Freaks, The Marker), Stalked follows our main character, Sam, who is a single mom and a former marine who, on the way to get her baby some medicine from the pharmacy, is abducted only to find herself waking up in a deserted factory. When she tries to leave, however, she realises that all the ways out have been sealed up, and she’s stuck there, with her baby alone at home. She isn’t alone either. Something invisible is stalking her and she must use her military experience and utilise her skills in order to survive.

This plot alone immediately grabbed my interest. A survival-thriller is something I tend to enjoy. There are unnerving horror-style moments to be found here in the early stages, but at the heart of Stalked exists a dark thriller about survival. Rebecca Rogers as Sam is good. She gives off a feeling of emotional fragility at times, but then in other moments she is incredibly strong and forceful, able to be a caring mother in one scene and later a military expert with vengeance in her eyes. She’s fairly believable in her role and she carries the vast majority of the movie on her own. Imogen Irving as Stacey, another victim locked in the warehouse, is solid here too for the time we see her on screen, as is Nathalie Buscombe as Tess. Though most of the supporting cast are fairly minor and don’t appear all that much, they do offer plenty to the way the plot unfolds. The action is enjoyable and while some of the fight scenes are a touch on the unbelievable side, with some awkward moments, there’s a lot of cool ideas going on.

The invisibility factor is done well enough. The way that Sam is stalked by this unseen “thing” who stalks her around the building is interesting. We see, at times, through the eyes of the stalker, which I thought was a cool touch. It does occasionally struggle with the effects, though, and a few of the scenes in which Sam is fighting her invisible foe have moments of looking a tad sketchy, but I did think it was realised pretty well overall. It’s a hard thing to do on a lower-end budget, and as far as telling the story and doing so in an entertaining way, I feel like Edgar accomplished that. I will say though, I did struggle to understand what the stalker was saying some of the time when we heard the sound of its voice. The effects added to the voice to make it sound strange need to perhaps be toned down a touch.

It’s a fairly short film, clocking in and only eighty minutes long, but it doesn’t really need any more time than that to get the job done. In fact, the shorter runtime allows the film to feel more hectic in the cat and mouse game being played between Sam and the stalker who is hunting her down inside the warehouse. Stalked, it has to be said, looks really nice. The cinematography from Graham Allsopp and Liam Iandoli is on point. Phil Mountford’s music also adds a good amount to the film, especially in the sequences in which Sam is trying to survive. It creates an urgency and a dramatic edge to what’s happening on screen. The whole thing, visually and audibly, is of a pretty decent quality. For a film that predominantly takes place in a single location (aside from a few minutes) there is plenty going on, and the claustrophobia and fear of the characters being locked in only adds to the tone and intensity. Without spoiling things, however, it is the ending that truly lets the film down. It’s odd, not very well structured, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That’s really what Stalked it. It’s a film that manages to be interesting and entertaining in many ways, yet also falls down in other ways.

Stalked is a simple yet effective film that uses its locations effectively to create a tense thriller about a woman trying to stay alive against her shrouded nemesis. Though it’s flawed at various times visually and doesn’t offer the deepest or most complex of stories, the good lead performance and nice pace throughout make this an enjoyable and fun 80 minute slice of combat-based action.

** 2/5

Stalked screened at this years Arrow Video Frightfest on Sunday August 25th 2019.

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