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Simon Read [Film Festival 10.12.11] movie review horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Martin Kemp
Writers: James Kenelm Clarke / Martin Kemp
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Let’s forget for a moment that this film is directed by Martin Kemp and judge it on its own terms. Every work of art deserves to be reviewed as such, and unfortunately I’ve always found Mr. Kemp to be a comedy figure of fun ever since he starred in a series of television adverts for leather couches which led my friends and I to project a leather couch fetish on the man and invent various maneuvers and techniques on how he might straddle a fine leather sofa and enjoy the sensual, leathery feeling. So let’s ask the real question; is Stalker a decent horror film? Well, not really, but it tries hard and its heart is very much in the right place.

It’s kind of a throwback to low budget Hammer films of the 70’s and takes place mainly in a dimly lit mansion in the English countryside, where Paula, an author is trying to write a follow-up to her first novel, a sensation which sold millions of copies. She’s got a major case of writers block though and to boot seems to be a neurotic personality in her self, painfully self-depreciating and meek to a fault. She hires a confident and perky personal assistant called Linda to encourage her to write and generally look after things, but a battle of personalities ensues after Linda begins to alter the new book to her own darker tastes, and a kind of bizarre lesbian rivalry begins to seep into the general atmosphere. Meanwhile, sleazy and unscrupulous journalist Robert begins hassling Paula’s friends back in London, trying to find a way to interview her for his magazine and expose her as a one-hit-wonder in the literary world, and manages to track her down and interrupt the power play at work in Crow Hall. How long do you think he’ll last?

Kemp’s direction is certainly not lacking and he makes the most of a modest budget. The camera has a certain grace and confidence which is however consistently undermined by the hammy performances of the two leads, and rather bland dialogue. Anna Brecon and Jane March as Paula and Linda are almost painfully earnest in their portrayal of these two damaged women, and the film can’t seem to decide if this is for comic effect or dramatic integrity and the result is often unintentionally amusing, as their shrieks and tantrums don’t fit with overall dark and serious mood of the plot. In short, it’s all a bit silly and uneven. The supporting characters fare much better, with Billy Murray having a fun time inhabiting the boozy journo Robert, and Colin Salmon playing Paula’s disgraced former psychiatrist Leo, who is also vaguely boozy, but a Nice Guy who tries to save the day. Linda Hayden plays the creepy housemaid who visits twice a week and doesn’t want Any Trouble from her houseguests, how long do you think she’ll last?

I admire Kemp for his approach and it is a nice effort, but there doesn‘t seem to be much going for this flick; the digital camerawork seems at odds with the old fashioned style of storytelling and the acting really is all over the place. There are various twists and turns which pop up throughout the narrative but really it’s just an exercise in jump scares and second guessing the final outcome, with some gory bits thrown in for good measure. At 77 minutes it’s a graciously brief film, which only adds to how forgettable it is really. I’ll keep a lookout for any future work from Mr. Kemp, but in the meantime he’s still got the couch ads to fall back on, any way he wants to.

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LOL (9 years ago) Reply

LOL the only thing missing from this film is Simon Phillips and an angry unpaid crew lol

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