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Stalk short film review


Directed by: #MichaelCoulombe


Stalk short movie poster
Stalk short movie poster

Bad boy meets badder girl. Stalk excites the cult of 1960s #horror with the nocturnal activities of fantasy beasts. Vintage horror is a style award winning director Michael Coulombe is familiar, pairing with writer Brantley J. Brown to establish Horror House Media.

The short film begins as an experience; the stalking of a stalker through his own eyes, as he stalks a victim through a suburb at night. The opening POV shot brilliantly encompasses this narrative riddle as the stalker lights a cigarette and tears down a missing poster.

It hooks us into a midnight hunt through the eyes of a psychopath. Without the need of dialogue, and with little action, the shot powerfully communicates the eponymous character’s carnal intent.

This opening shot is boldly reminiscent of the opening shot of Gasper Noé’s Enter The Void (2010), and is nonetheless effective.

Set with high hopes, the hunt begins. The cinematographic style disintegrates into mostly bland, ordinary shots depicting the two characters walking across a pavement; which accounts for much of the film. Consequently, our experience deviates, and we no longer participate in stalking the victim or stalker. Instead we lose our sense of vulnerability and become omniscient spectators.

Narrative replaces experience. The stalker, wielding an oversized knife stolen from a slasher set, and looking somewhat like Hannibal Lecter, limps after his prey. Tension builds. It captivates our imagination and fear and distracts us from the transition from experience to narrative. The sound is effective at developing tension and reminiscent of the slasher genre. But as the stalker limps on, and on, and on, the tension begins to fray, and eventually it snaps. The sound becomes overused which dilutes its purpose and the narrative stretches too far with too little action. While we remain hooked on what will eventually happen to Vanessa, the prey, the long journey soon outweighs the destination.

Vanessa, played flawlessly by Kara Schaaf, is both convincing and relatable. Schaaf’s natural performance displays that uneasy feeling when walking home late at night – the feeling of being watched or followed. This ‘badder girl’ brilliantly contrasts the character the victim with the predator. She reminds us of the human experience in such situations, with the grotesque stalker perhaps a metaphor for reasonable anxiety in such a situation. Schaaf executes a cheesy ending with a cheesy performance and therefore compliments the narrative as fluidly as humanly possible.

Stalk is not your contemporary horror film. It is a blast from the past, and about as fast. Its twist is refreshing and subjective, perhaps even goofy, though it takes some work to get there. It is a fun film of artistic experiments and demonstrates cinematographic potential.



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