Lifetime Review: 'Who's Stalking Me?'
A police officer takes his duty to protect and serve too far in this standard obsession thriller with a surprise ending.
Following an attack at the hands of a masked intruder, photographer Amanda Reynolds (Chelsea Ricketts) finds comfort in the form of handsome and caring detective James Dawson (Michael Welch). Despite warnings from her friend Jeannie (Cara Santana) and business partner Liam (Bryan Lillis) that Dawson is taking things too far, Amanda finds much needed respite in the officer's efforts to ensure her safety and peace of mind.
But soon after, as Amanda finds herself romanced by Dawson, she also begins to realize her friends may be right to be suspicious of the new man who has seamlessly integrated his way into her life. As more tragedy befalls Amanda's life, Amanda will begin to investigate Dawson—with her search for answers uncovering a dark secret about a police officer who will do anything to get what he wants.
With abuse of power becoming a highly discussed issue in the #MeToo era, Who's Stalking Me? (alternately titled Agent of Deceit by MarVista Entertainment) is a Lifetime thriller that bases itself to some degree within a real world problem. With themes of women moving on after being the victim of violent crime, men abusing their power to do as they please, and the police's ineffectiveness in protecting women from potential predators, Who's Stalking Me? becomes a Lifetime thriller that has a message to say.
Who's Stalking Me? manages to pace its action at a slow burn, allowing the drama to unfold while keeping the audience from being bored. The film wisely doesn't take long to show the audience that Dawson isn't all he appears to be, leading to a sense of tension building as we wait for Dawson's facade to fall apart.
Speaking of Dawson, repeatLifetime offender Michael Welch is perfectly cast as obsessive cop James Dawson, channeling in his performance as The Bachelor Next Door's Donnie. Welch manages to expertly mix both halves of Dawson's personality; on one hand, you see the hints to his psychotic nature, and on the other, you can see how he is able to use his charm and police position to cover his tracks. Once the aforementioned facade begins to crack away, however, is when Welch is allowed to fully let loose and let Dawson's darkest colors come to the surface.
Chelsea Ricketts works well alongside Welch, developing Amanda to develop into a strong and likable protagonist. For much of the film, you can sympathize with Amanda and understand her falling for Dawson's charm, but once she realizes that her friends' suspicions have truth behind them, Amanda transforms from vulnerable and love struck to courageous and proactive. Like the best of Lifetime protagonists, Amanda makes up for her initial obliviousness by fighting to take down her stalker once and for all.
Bryan Lillis also makes an impression as Amanda's ex-boyfriend turned business partner and Cara Santana brings life to her standard role as the "Heroine's BFF" archetype, refusing to buy into Dawson's false charm from the start and fighting to prove he's not as innocent as he seems. Nicole Ochoa also makes a strong impression as Detective Valencia, utilizing her brief scenes to turn into a brief angel of confidence to Amanda. Unfortunately, Ochoa's strength as Valencia might make one want her to be a recurring protagonist throughout the film, making her plot arc's abrupt ending all the more disheartening.
Warning: Spoilers Below
The most surprising thing about Who's Stalking Me?, however, has to be its ending, which fails to fall into any of the standard Lifetime Film Ending templates regular viewers are used to. In the end, after Dawson is defeated, it was revealed that it was actually Liam who was behind the initial attack on Amanda, with the film ending with Amanda watching in horror as Liam was arrested. Just as it appears Who's Stalking Me? will end on the standard "Everything's Back to Normal" ending, the film throws one last gut punch at us, leaving us just as startled and caught off guard as Amanda. It's an unexpected move from Lifetime, and I for one greatly appreciate the change.
Overall, Who's Stalking Me? proves to be another Lifetime thriller that proves having a familiar plot doesn't automatically make a movie bad. With a strong cast, good pacing, and an unexpected ending, Who's Stalking Me? has a lot to offer Lifetime regulars and new viewers alike.
Score: 7 out of 10 unintentional plot convenient photos.