Short Film Review: “Stalk”



Written by Brantley J. Brown

Directed by Michael Coulombe

Starring Kara Schaaf and Tyler Gallant

Do you ever find yourself traipsing along a deserted street in the bleak, inky night?  Are you ever frozen at an impasse, your concreted kicks leaving your legs soft and wobbly, the fine hairs on the back of your neck dancing in frantic unison informing you of the distinct possibility that something nefarious lurks in the immediate vicinity?  Now Sophies Choicing it, you can waltz ahead blissfully ignorant to the approaching danger or turn painfully slow blooming the tension until your eyes lock with the unnameable horror towering behind you. This is the fate that awaits our protagonist in the horror short, from YouTube channel Horror House Media, Stalk.

The plot of Stalk is admittedly a simple one:  a woman, known by the name Vanessa, is trekking to an undisclosed location when a less than desirable masked assailant begins stalking (hence the title!) her.  Now, I know it’s a touch frowned upon to go perusing book covers and then to judge said books based on their aforementioned covers, but one gander at this scenario and it’s pretty crystal that unpleasant intentions are the goals for tonight’s proceedings.  Can Vanessa make it through the night unscathed or at the very least with only minor superficial wounds? Well, that all depends on whether or not Vanessa has the cunning ability to evade her admirer to safety.

Indie short flicks, usually of the no budget variety, tend to be hit or miss.  I’d set Stalk somewhere in between with it leaning a bit more towards the former.  I can’t say that Stalk hooked me by the throat not allowing me to come up for air until the credits, but it had enough going for it that it wasn’t a chore to sit through.  A strong start helps pique your fancy with a title card that has you staring through the villains mask at broken up letters not quite revealing the word stalk.  This “engrossing you in the stalkers perspective” is further driven with the opening shot that gets a bit Halloween-esque as we walk down a dimly lit street from the killer or would be killer’s point of view.  I was admittedly disappointed when the story switches to a more cinematic style. From that opening shot I thought we might have a Hardcore Henry on our hands but in a slasher film world.

Alas, the slasher flick from a first killer perspective that I had prophesied did not come to fruition.  A much more traditional take was…well…taken. We follow Vanessa as she puts foot to pavement unbeknownst to her that danger lurks behind her.  Honestly, it becomes a bit paint by numbers at this point. The story doesn’t exactly lull but it’s all the same-o same-o that we’ve seen before.  Protagonist walks along as the antagonist follows. Protagonist senses potential danger, turns to find protagonist is being paranoid as the street behind the protagonist is empty of any encroaching evil.  Rinse and then if need be repeat… that is until the ending. I don’t know if it was deliberate but this easing of the audience to let their guard down allows for a surprise ending that I didn’t see coming.

Stalk won’t necessarily blow your mind, it is a solid effort.  The acting is better than most indie efforts and the crew display that they have a firm grasp on putting together a story.  The cinematography looks good and I found myself impressed with the editing. Smooth transitions followed by tight execution shows a talent to be had here.  If Stalk is any indication, give Horror House Media some time to hone their craft and I think we’ll be seeing some quality work coming from under this banner.

So the question remains:  Would I recommend Stalk?  Well, do you have five minutes to kill?  With a strong beginning and end plus a quick run time that makes it easy to breeze through I’d say it’s worth taking a peek.

Adam Troutt is an obsessive horror cinephile. He aspires to one day be a filmmaker, but in the meantime he devours more horror films than is healthy for human consumption. Find him on Twitter: @PsychoCinephile