After releasing their effective short film Soundbite last year, director Michael Coulombe and writer Brantley J. Brown are back with another short entitled STALK, which serves as a horror hybrid that draws influence from some of your favorite classics.
We open with a title card that draws inspiration from Stephen King’s novel IT, (and Stranger Things too) containing bold, blood-red font, which brings upon the feeling that we are about to be transported into an iconic ‘80s slasher.
In a similar vein to the killer’s point of view shots from Black Christmas, John Carpenter’s Halloween, and the 2012 remake of Maniac, we can hear a man’s breathing, but we see very little— except a gloved hand smoking a cigarette. The suspicious man whose POV we are following bumps into a couple walking by, before fixating himself upon a nearby “Missing” sign with a woman named Michelle’s face on it, eventually tearing the sign off the pole— we realize we are following a predator who is currently in search of his next prey. Poor missing girl Michelle was likely a former victim of his. RIP Michelle— we get the feeling that she most likely did not make it of this creep’s grip alive.
After his brief mulling over his likely past victim, predatory man spots another woman walking alone in the streets. He watches her from afar, as the tension increases, and the subtle musical score again gives us an endearing retro slasher vibe. Predatory man begins to catch up to her— weird limp and all— as he reveals that he’s been carrying a chef’s knife, (a la Michael Myers) ready to attack the “unsuspecting” woman. Whether it was intentional or not, the woman casted even resembles a version of Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode. She’s alone, and she’s a woman— so, according to typical horror movie logic, she must be vulnerable, right?
Here is where things get interesting: the camera follows closely behind her, and, as a woman, I begin to feel anxious for her. Every single woman watching STALK can relate to this feeling of dread when you are walking alone at night, and sense that someone is closely behind you.
Just when we think the inevitable is bound to happen to this film’s version of Laurie Strode, STALK refreshingly does not go into the direction that we expect. Without giving too much away, during the last couple minutes, I was immediately reminded of a certain story within the Trick ‘r Treat anthology, where Anna Paquin’s character and her female friends are more than what they outwardly appear to be.
In a current climate where women’s stories of abuse and/or stalking by surrounding predatory men are more prevalent now more than ever, STALK takes a bite out of the tired, female victim horror trope— and gives us something unique and unexpected instead.
You can currently watch STALK on the filmmakers’ Horror House Media YouTube channel.