Ok friends, I am not going lie, I am a little heated right now. Michael and I settled in to watch a movie, thinking it would be a relaxing night discovering new horror when BAM we got hit in the face with a harmful, grotesque, misogynistic addition to the stalker sub-genre.
Think about any movie made which features a female stalker who makes life generally miserable for the object of their obsession, almost always a man (Fatal Attraction, Swim Fan, You Get Me, Unforgettable). There is usually another women in the picture for this man, a wife or girlfriend he’s cheated on with his stalker at some point, or an ex that can’t move on. The stalker murders a few people before moving on to the man they’re obsessing over, or his current significant other. Of course this stalker perishes at the end and the audience cheers for the male protagonist, who triumphs over his unhinged stalker; sometimes his partner finishes the antagonist off, but either way, none of the plot between the protagonist or antagonist is presented as romantic. We’re not supposed to say “that woman severely emotionally, physically, and sexually abused this man and his partner and killed those closest to him but they were just so PERFECT for each other!”
I guess Chris Sivertson, the director of this trash heap, did not get the memo on how to do a stalker sub-genre movie. At first I was excited about the roles being reversed, with the man being in the antagonist role as this is much more realistic and we really don’t need another movie about how women are cr*zy bitches, AMIRITE!!!1 The movie was really good up until the ending; the protagonist, Sam, was a pretty good character, a little 2 dimensional but there were really no characters who were really that fleshed-out. Her romance with the school geek, Henry, starts out on a super creepy note when Henry disables Sam’s car in order to have an excuse to talk to her (AFTER calling her a slut in great big capitol letters in his journal after they have a small argument the first time they meet). But he confesses this to her after the start dating and she apparently thinks it’s NBD because he’s QUIRKY and SMART, and doesn’t get how to talk to people, so it only makes sense that he would mess with her personal property, potentially putting her at risk!
Henry continues his fuckery by tapping Sam’s phone and listening to her every phone call, in-person conversation, and even her sleeping. He of course escalates to murder because Sam dared to have a sexual past before she met him and we can’t have that, now can we? Henry murders some random guy who’s name I can’t remember because he had the audacity to have sex with Henry’s property! Henry’s jealousy, stalker tendencies, and manipulation continue to brach out when he breaks into a mutual friend’s room because she saw him the night he committed murder, assaults another of Sam’s friends after he touches Sam and punches Sam hard enough to break skin when she tries to intervene.
At this point, Sam is starting to realize something is not right with Henry and she steers clear for a while. People in her life tell her Henry is overly controlling and jealous and Henry continues to prove them right, by murdering another friend who had previously slept with Sam. Sam isn’t sure what to do, which is totally realistic and understandable; the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when they leave. Leaving an abusive partner is not easy and I wasn’t mad at the movie for this.
What DID chap my ass was the ending. Henry’s nonsense escalates during the climax of the film and Sam learns that he was the one who killed her two friends. When Sam refuses to run away with him, Henry stabs himself, dying. Now Sam mentions earlier in the film that her father passed away from suicide so this would understandably be a traumatic thing for her to witness and she would no doubt have complicated feelings about it. HOW-FUCKING-EVER, when we see Sam later at college, we learn via voiceover that she regrets never telling Henry she loved him, laments that no one understood her the way Henry did, and how no romantic or sexual encounter can ever be as exciting because what she had with Henry was just so electric. We see a typical indie movie flashback of the good times they had together as she explains this.
WHO IN THE FUCK thought they could spin this shit into a tragic love story?! As someone who has worked and currently works with victims of domestic violence, I am horrified at the message the end of this film pushes on the audience; DV is romantic, it’s exciting, and no one will ever understand you or make your life as thrilling as your abusive partner. DV is not romantic, it’s terrifying. And don’t we find it a little odd (or frustratingly predictable) that when the stalked roles are reversed (a male antagonist obsessing over a female protagonist) suddenly the antagonist is not an unhinged POS that deserves to die but a tragic genius who just loved too dang hard for his own good and should be thought of as the love of his victim’s life (like, literally Sam calls him the love of her life…AFTER he disables her car, taps her phone, breaks into her house, murders two of her friends, physically attacks her, flies into a jealous rage at her place of employment, and kills himself in front of her. ROMANCE!
This is a trash movie, don’t see it ever.