dir. Steve Johnson
At first glance Stalker seems to have a simple premise: a woman, the lead in a horror film, and a man, a cameraman on the film, are trapped together in a hotel lift with only occasional mobile service and no other way to reach hotel staff.
It can’t be as simple as that, as the statistics on the opening title card warn: 1 in every 6 women will be stalked in their lifetime; 1 in every 19 men will be stalked in their lifetime; 1 in 2 stalkers have a relationship with their victims.
The question then is to whom does the title refer? Is it Daniel (Brennan) stalking Rose (Skelton)? Is Rose stalking Alice, who was originally cast for her role but has gone missing? And why is it that they both have ideas about what happened to Alice that can be laughed off as just rumours?
Director Johnson delivers a slow burn thriller whose tension can rise and fall over the course of a couple of lines. The power dynamic too shifts between the characters throughout, and with the majority of the film taking place in a lift the focus remains on character, with both leads delivering spectacular performances. Skelton exudes enough entitled brattiness as “the talent” that she’s easy to dislike – but not hate – whilst Brennan’s softly-spoken Daniel immediately sets off alarm bells, a feeling with which female, AFAB (assigned female at birth) and femme-presenting viewers are unfortunately all too familiar.
With a soundtrack consisting of ambient noise, lighting that switches between dingy white and emergency red and close-up cinematography, the claustrophobia of the situation lingers. Even in its less intense moments, Stalker refuses to be forgotten.
© Lindsay Dawson
Stalker is out on DVD & digital platforms from 10th October. Preorder a copy here.