Written by: Matt Patti | November 8th, 2021
A Stalker in the House (Jared Cohn, 2021) 2½ out of 4 stars.
I think we all know that one person in our lives who doesn’t quite know how to take a hint. Whether romantically or platonically, said individual does not understand when they are not wanted. Some may even be told explicitly to go away, yet they continue to push, anyways. Director Jared Cohn’s thriller A Stalker in the House involves someone who fits this description. Mike (Jack Pearson, Fast and Fierce: Death Race) is a good-looking, charming twentysomething man who has no problem getting matches on online dating services. His issue, though, is that once he goes out on actual dates, he becomes overly obsessive and demanding to the point where most women want to call it quits. However, Mike is persistent, and even when he’s told to his face that things will not work out, he still doesn’t give up.
Mike’s newest pursuit is of Jen (Veronika Issa, also Fast and Fierce: Death Race), an attractive young woman who is studying psychology. After Mike aggressively pushes for sex on the first date and is refused several times, Jen cuts him off. Mike is his usual self, however, and does not take no for an answer. He makes up increasingly ludicrous reasons to see Jen and, soon enough, Jen becomes extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Jen has no idea how far Mike will go to ensure they are together.
Director Cohn does an excellent job of showcasing a toxic relationship right off the bat and establishing Mike as an unhinged, not-right-in-the-head psychopath. Although Jen can be considered the protagonist, Mike is the most compelling character in the film by a mile. His personality is multi-layered: he is immature and dim-witted when it comes to the knowledge of how others perceive him, yet he’s clever and inventive in his efforts to stalk women. The actions he takes and the excuses he comes up with just to make sure he and Jen cross paths are the kind of creative, yet disturbing plans that evil geniuses dream up. Pearson delivers an exceptional and believable performance that paints the character of Mike as an annoying yet terrifying psychotic individual, and one that feels grounded and real.
The other characters in the film are somewhat compelling, but nowhere near as intriguing as Mike. Issa plays a fine Jen but her performance is nothing to write home about. It works for the film, though. Unfortunately, the movie has a few major issues that threaten to ruin the whole experience but never quite lead to disaster. The dialogue is very on-the-nose and some of the lines that come out of the actors’ mouths are laughable. There is far too much dialogue in the first place, as characters often think out loud with their words and say things that are easily implied and not in need of a verbal explanation. The cheesy dialogue is a definite distraction but if the viewer pays more attention to the actions, rather than their words, it is a much more enjoyable time.
Also, characters in this film make insanely ignorant decisions that are necessary to move the plot forward but don’t make a lick of sense. I understand that even the best horror/thriller films rely on human mistake to thrust the events of their plots forward. However, the decisions made in this film are far worse than the typical bad decisions made in horror films. Yet, even with all these issues, I still think the film is worth a watch just based off of the enthralling character of Mike alone. The eerie fact that there are many folks out there just like Mike makes his presence on screen both chilling and unsettling, and seeing a complete, detailed exploration of this type of person is more than enough to hold the viewer’s interest.