The Stalker Club
Written by Barbara Kymlicka
Directed by Doug Campbell
Lifetime does slashers! Throw in a dash of The Internet Will Murder You, toss in a pile of stalking, and pour in a bunch of actual person in a mask killing teens with a knife, then blend it together and top it with a “Lifetime” cherry, and you got The Stalker Club, which proves that Lifetime movies can be any genre they want. For those of you thinking an actual slasher movie would be out of place on Lifetime, this network consistently puts out films with high body counts and crazed obsessives following around innocent teens, this is the natural progression!
The Stalker Club opens with a riff on the opening of Scream except the masked stalker doesn’t speak and the 80s girl dies by falling down the stairs while hinting she sort of knows whats going on. But it’s too late for her and too late for us because the rest of the film takes place 30 years later! Modern day opens with a montage of the five main teen characters doing a slow-motion cool walk complete with a name title cards for each one, a handy thing to do to get you up to speed with the characters quickly so the stalking and the clubbing can begin. We got Ashley (Kelcie Stranahan), our heroine; Darren (JT Neal), Ashley’s handsome boyfriend; Chloe (Alex Frnka), the bad girl who channels Denise Richards; Mark (Paul Karmiryan), the jock who likes to joke; and Sadie (Lora McHugh), the sensitive goth. The clique is sort of weird because Chloe and Mark are the popular kids, while Darren is new to school and befriended Mark, while Sadie is presented as Chloe’s best friend but doesn’t seem to fit at all. Ashley is the newest one of the group, Chloe doesn’t seem to like her and Ashley has basically abandoned all her former friends to hang out with this cool crowd. Ashley also is mad at her mom (Maeve Quinlan) for daring to have a boyfriend when it’s only been two years since her dad died in a car accident. Seriously, Ashley takes some warming up to before we don’t wish she gets stalked to death.
The teens all get a text message inviting them to “STALKER CLUB”! All caps, the invite is from dare@5evils and is a website link. This freaks out the teens but Chloe is itching to try it, so they all sign up for it at the same time. It turns out to just ba a game where they all draw papers from a hat to find out if they are “stalker” or “victim” and then have to correctly identify the stalker, or else. This is nebulously defined but it’s purpose is to just get the paranoia ball rolling before masked people start appearing outside houses.
Soon the teens are getting scare, but Mark and Chloe are weirdly getting off on the thrill and demand it get kicked up an notch. Mark probably regrets that, as he finds a weird buzzing bag in his house, which he opens and is FILLED WITH BEES!!! He’s allergic, and is soon at the hospital with a puffed face (thanks to a timely epipen injection!) But the stalker shows up to finish the job, and soon sets their sights on the other teens. Who is safe, who is the stalker, what can be done? The text messages declare that “no one leaves STALKER CLUB!”
For a Lifetime movie on a Lifetime budget, director Doug Campbell (The Stalked by My Doctor trilogy, among many others) makes the most of what he’s got (as usual!) We got weird angles capped with distorted closeups of the characters during tense scenes to heighten the sense of paranoia. The color scheme is filled with a lot of glowy blues and muted reds as the safety of home becomes a danger. Chase scenes through the school seem handheld and mixed editing with the geography of the building layout for maximum “scare” scenes of the masked stalker leaping out at his victims. Even with the main characters starting off as stereotypes, Barbara Kymlicka‘s (Sugar Daddies, Double Daddy) script fleshes them out as more nuanced, Ashley hiding the pain of blaming herself for her father’s death, Darren trying to cover up his troubled past, Chloe’s meanness covering for her insecurities and shame of having a drunken mom. The film is just self-aware enough to make a one-off reference (In the beginning the teens are watching a horror movie where a lady is stalked by an alligator, and one of the characters derisively points that out) but outside of that just gives us good and crazy Lifetime thrills. There is even an ample amount of supporting characters to keep guessing the killer’s identity more difficult plus the historical role of the Stalker Club means there could always be Stalker Clubs waiting in the wings to prey on young teens who click on links strangers send them by text. So don’t do that, just watch Lifetime movies!
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