| March 19, 2013

Cyberstalker is about a young woman named Aiden (Mischa Barton), who has been the target of an obsessed man on the internet for over 13 years.  The man killed her parents and Aiden has been in hiding under a false name ever since, but a picture of one of her paintings has led him back to her.

This is the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time, and I just sat through the final chapter of the Twilight saga.  The problem with Lifetime original movies – other than the terrible acting and writing – is the stereotypes they rely on to create drama.  These movies send a message that all women are inherently weak and fragile, and while they have the potential to overcome these inherent flaws, it’s going to take everything their little woman brains can muster to pull it off.  Of course, the idea here is that the climax, when the protagonist overcomes her fears to face her demons, is meant to be empowering.  Unfortunately, Aiden’s arc isn’t even that interesting.  Not to give too much away, but while she does eventually stand up for herself, she is frustratingly naïve until the final scene, and in the end has to be saved by a big strong man.

The structure of this film is painfully obvious.  If you understand anything about narrative structure, or have seen a movie, you should be able to notice a few key things.  First, the way the film goes out of its way to conceal the stalker’s identity.  Even when he’s sitting at home on his computer by himself he’s wearing a hood to conceal his head, and he’s speaking in his unnaturally deep voice to himself.  It’s like the scene in The Dark Knight where Batman is talking to Lucius Fox at Wayne Tower and using his ridiculous Batman voice even though Fox knows who he is.  It’s made worse here, because the stalker is alone so his gritty voice is only meant to throw off the audience.  Obviously hiding who the stalker is makes it clear that it’s one of the principal characters, and in true CSI fashion, everyone’s suspected at one point or another until the big twist ending.  Personally, I guessed the stalker’s identity the first time I saw him.  Again, painfully obvious.  I’ll never understand movies that go out of their way to keep secrets from the audience.  It’s an archaic writing style that never has the impact their looking for.  A much better option is to reveal who the stalker is right away for the audience, and then see him interacting with Aiden, and watch the police work to figure out.  That dramatic irony creates tension and drama much better than this nonsense.

I wish I could come up with something to praise about this film, to give this review some sense of balance.  I’ve seen Mischa Barton offer good performances in other films, and thought she could at least do a decent job of carrying this film, but the character is so weak in every way possible that there’s nothing for her to sink her acting teeth into.  I can’t say for sure, but it looked like she simply hated being a part of this project; like it was beneath her talent but she was forced to do it for the money.

No special features.

Available on DVD from Lionsgate on March 19.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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