With a little fine tuning, STALKED might have been a contemporary suspense classic like THE STEPFATHER (1987). As it stands, it's a nasty sleeper made with unaccustomed realism for a scare show and featuring Jay Underwood as the most fearsome Mama's boy since Norman Bates.
Restaurant owner Brooke Daniels (Maryam D'Abo) is properly appreciative when polite stranger Daryl Gleason (Jay Underwood) saves the life of her son Mike (Todd Fennell). But Daryl is a recovering mental patient who misconstrues her gratitude and sets out to win her for his own. Obstacles to his
"courtship" include his unhinged former lover Janie (Lisa Blount) and Brooke's loyal employee Tony (Alex Karzis) whom Daryl perceives as a rival. Daryl murders Janie at a carwash and drugs Tony so that he disgraces Brooke in front of clients at a snooty gallery bash she catered.
After he is politely rejected by Brooke, Daryl drops by the now-fired Tony's place, records his voice, and stabs him to death. After her restaurant is trashed and her nerves are on edge because of menacing phone calls from "Tony" (actually Daryl using the recordings he made), Brooke tries to
persuade the police that someone is stalking her. But Daryl has cleverly hidden his tracks, and the police assume Brooke is merely hysterical. At Daryl's house, Brooke discovers a shrine-like replica of her bedroom. She goes to see Daryl's psychiatrist, just in time to see Daryl kill him. Lying in
wait for Brooke at her house after the slaying, Daryl is fatally stabbed with his own knife while scuffling with Brooke.
STALKED plays on a tabloid-trained audience's realization that anyone, not only celebrities, can attract the unwanted attention of an admirer from Bedlam. Unconcerned with garnering sympathy for Daryl, the screenplay merely sets up convincing reasons for his psychosis and lets him go to town.
Implicating the audience in Daryl's skewered perceptions, the movie forces us to enjoy his diabolical cleverness in wooing and then turning on his prey. During this joyride of obsessive behavior, Underwood terrifies us as his easily agitated Lothario creepily justifies his surveillance activities
and his vigor in removing human inconveniences to his goal. Building upon isolated throwaway scenes, like his sniffing Brooke's underpants, the film escalates the suspense by deftly making each minor frisson-inducer a building block for the next wilder surprise. Former juvenile Underwood provides
an unnerving glimpse into the flip side of traditional courtship; he's matched by Blount's wrenching turn as a stuttering drab whom Daryl views as too obviously impaired for his new mentally healthy future. What makes STALKED so chilling is the utter rationality with which Daryl views his approach
to mating. How can you argue with someone armed with impenetrable logic and a long knife? (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: With a little fine tuning, STALKED might have been a contemporary suspense classic like THE STEPFATHER (1987). As it stands, it's a nasty sleeper made with unaccustomed realism for a scare show and featuring Jay Underwood as the most fearsome Mama's boy si… (more)