Matt Glasson, Darek Russell, Rachel Chapman, Laura Baron
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Matthew Glasson, B. Bowls MacLean
NR (Equiv. to "R")
I'm hesitant to refer to Love Stalker as a micro-budget film, despite the film's paltry by Hollywood standards production budget. Filmed on a reported $30,000 budget, Love Stalker is, however, a prime example of the creative and high quality work that is being produced in the independent film world for amounts far less than even the lowest budgeted Hollywood studio release.
Written and directed by Matthew Glasson and Bowls MacLean, Love Stalker is billed by the filmmakers as an "un-romantic comedy," but it's also a film that has far more going on underneath the surface than one might initially guess from a film about a 30-something player whose primary obsession in life seems to be that of achieving his target of 75 sexual conquests (because he was born in 1975).
The "player" in question is Pete (Matthew Glasson), a man who'd likely not recognize a genuine emotion if it bit him on the cock but whose life is entirely changed when he encounters Stephanie (Rachel Chapman), a popular web blogger with whom he does the unthinkable and falls in love. The problem is, of course, that eventually Stephanie discovers the truth about Paul's playing ways and ends the relationship.
This is where Love Stalker really begins to soar.
Thanks largely to a tremendously satisfying performance by Glasson, who manages to make Pete simultaneously creepy and sympathetic, Love Stalker manages to be both funny and sad as Pete has to come face-to-face with feelings he's never had before but, all the while, also becomes increasingly obsessed, disturbing and, yes, even a little terrifying. Love Stalker is sort of like a cinematic version of Stalker 101, but it's also funny, moving, jarring, thought-provoking and much more.
If you've ever found yourself watching any number of rom-com's and thinking to yourself "That's downright creepy," then you're going to find much to love about Love Stalker, a film that not so subtly rips on the rom-com sub-genre while painting a distinctive picture all its own. Watching Pete descend into borderline madness is funny yet jarring, watching how that madness manifests in those around him is jarring but also jarring is how Glasson and MacLean have constructed the film in such a way that it all feels both very real and very surreal.
The camera work by Bart Elfrink and Joshua Lassing adds greatly to that sense of feeling unsettled throughout the entire film, with visuals that at times seem to be floating before our very eyes and imagery that is crystal clear yet also make effective use of both natural and unnatural sources of light. David Ohliger's original music has a bit of a retro feeling to it, sort of a weaving together of 70's exploitation with contemporary thriller.
Along with Glasson's compelling performance, Rachel Chapman gives Stephanie an almost unnerving sense of normalcy that invites you to settle in with her character but also constantly has you wondering what's underneath her own surface. Darek Russell does a nice job as Pete's more nerdish yet normal best friend, while Laura Baron adds unexpected depth to the role of Sharon, a bartender with whom Pete enjoys frequent sexual encounters.
Love Stalker was shot in St. Louis and those from the region will have no trouble identify several familiar landmarks. I'm not quite ready to call Love Stalker a love song to St. Louis, but it's definitely entertaining for those familiar with the area to see the creative and fun ways that the city is used in the film.
Love Stalker has experienced quite a bit of success on the indie film fest circuit and should, if there's any justice, lead to further open doors for Glasson whether he chooses to more closely pursue acting or a behind-the-scenes role. Glasson has a presence that brings to mind that of early Vince Vaughn, an off-balance weaving together of menace, mayhem, camaraderie and edginess.
For more information on Love Stalker, visit the film's website listed in the credits and, as well, do yourself a favor and support an independent film by picking up the film's DVD available on the website. You can also now watch it on Amazon Instant Video with the link provided directly from this page!
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic