Eye For Film >> Movies >> Stalker (2020) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Andy (Vincent Van Horn) is lonely when he moves to Los Angeles, accompanied only by his dog Juicebox and nursing a broken heart. Before long, he meets two new people: a cautiously flirtatious young woman, Sam (Christine Ko); and a ride share driver, Roger (Michael Lee Joplin); he pours his heart out to both of them. Sam is warm and understanding. Though neither of them wants to rush things, a possible new relationship seems to be on the cards. Roger is friendly but starts calling every few hours, wanting to hang out again. It's suffocating. Andy tries to create distance between them. Before long, things turn sour.
Cinema is littered with stories of seemingly ordinary people attracting the attention of obsessive stalkers. Blinders is not quite what it looks like, but to say more would be to ruin the ending. In the meantime, it plays out in this very familiar stalker territory. As Andy, a tutor by trade, goes about finding clients to establish himself in the area professionally, Roger inveigles himself into every aspect of his life. Given Andy's personal and professional dependence on social media, it's easy to do and, as he soon discovers, very difficult to do anything about.
Shot in a very plain style under the glare of the California sun, Blinders emphasises Andy's exposure at every turn. Where many actors would wilt under this gaze, Van Horn bears up well, managing to present a rounded character despite the increasingly narrow role that Roger's behaviour is forcing Andy into. As his frustration escalates, Andy retains his sense of himself but struggles to work out effective ways of fighting back. Roger seems to be trying to push him over the edge into a pattern of violence that he wants nothing to do with. He also becomes afraid for Sam - though she too is a complicated person and manages to avoid the all too common tropes of being present only for decoration or to give Andy something to lose.
All in all this is a solid little film, but aside from the ending there's not much it says or does that hasn't been said or done numerous times before. We already have a pretty good idea of how bad these situations can get, so watching yet another character caught up in one is less scary than simply depressing. There are a couple of well played vignettes in which the film rises above this, but overall it feels as if it's just a vehicle carrying us along to the final twist, with not enough happening en route to justify the trip.Reviewed on: 01 Sep 2020
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