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In this Canadian produced film released in the United States as STALKER, (C. Thomas Howell) plays as Mack Maddox who faces payment of dues for a one-night stand with health club instructor Justine when, after she is murdered and Mack is chosen as a juror for the case of the slain woman, his entire existence becomes greatly complicated, with his marriage, vocation as an advertising executive, and eventually the safekeeping of his family all being in jeopardy. When the jurors are shown crime scene photographs of the homicide victim by the prosecuting attorney, Mack recognizes her as his short-term paramour, and after the suspect, the murdered woman's husband Ezra, performed by Jay Underwood, is released because of a mistrial, he begins to believe that Mack was in fact his deceased wife's lover, and stalks Mack, his wife Laura and his daughter as well, apparently with an objective of killing all of them as retribution for Mack's brief lapse into sin with Justine. The story is bewhiskered and laden with numerous flaws of logic, but in spite of this lack of originality, production characteristics are of high quality, in particular effectively moody scoring by Normand Corbeil, telling compositions from cinematographer Georges Archambault, top-flight production design contributed by Paola Ridolfi, and the crisp editing of Arthur Tarnowski, all under able direction from Marc Grenier. Although Howell stiffly overacts throughout, Maxim Roy as Laura is a standout for her splendidly natural turn. Grenier's pacing control is strongly evident from the outset, while the final scene is one of the work's best due to a spare use of dialogue; with a less hackneyed storyline, this film would have been more noteworthy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are looking into this movie for a future watch, a thought is
crossing your mind, probably the same thought that was in my mind: a late
90's thriller with C. Thomas Howell can't be too good. I like Howell as an
actor, but the nineties haven't been very kind to him. He had a few good
ones: `That Night,' `Kid,' and `Payback.' But most of his other nineties
films have been total duds. Who would actually admit they sat through the
dreadful `Far Out Man' or `Treacherous?' Besides me, of course. I didn't
think `Fatal Affair' was going to be very good at all when I noticed
Lifetime was going to air it. I almost skipped it until I saw that Jay
Underwood was in it, too. I gave it a try and was very pleased with what I
Here is a brief plot outline, but nothing that will be a spoiler. Howell plays a wealthy and successful executive with a happy family life. He and his wife have a little girl, are remodeling their house, and share everything. Well, Howell doesn't share the fact that he has recently had an affair with a married woman. One day, Howell is selected for jury duty in a murder case where a man is accused of killing his wife. During the proceedings, Howell realizes that the victim is actually the woman he had an affair with. Lucky for him, the trial is thrown out for a lack of evidence, but not-so-lucky for him is that the defendant, Jay Underwood, knows that Howell had an affair with his wife. Underwood begins to stalk Howell and his family, spouting out claims of innocence and how Howell was responsible for his wife's death.
All this may not sound like much, but there is no need to say more on the plot. Underwood is quite disturbing in his role, and he's very believable. It is made more interesting in that you find yourself not knowing whether to believe his claims or not. The tension builds whenever he is on screen. Howell is good, too, and the struggle he is facing is surprisingly deep, especially in relation to his own wife, played well by Maxim Roy. I wasn't entirely pleased with the movie's finish, but it was all right and the movie as a whole was very good. This is good proof that the name C. Thomas Howell headlining a movie doesn't mean it will be bad. Zantara's score: 8 out of 10.
This Canadian made (though set in the United States) thriller does have several things going for it. While it's a low budget production, never at any point does the movie look really cheap (and, thankfully, it's missing that tacky "Canadian look" found in many Canadian movies.) The acting is also pretty good, with even C. Thomas Howell giving a decent performance. Script-wise, the movie does get you interested enough so that you'll stick to the end to see what happens. However, while the script has that aforementioned strength, it has a few weaknesses. It takes a long time to make the bad guy a significant threat - I'm not sure if the bad guy has any dialogue in the first 40 minutes, and he's hardly seen during that time! And the script is lacking in surprises and twists - much of the movie is very familiar. Still, if it's a slow night and nothing else is on, you could do worse.
To begin with this movie has to be the most contrived overacted badly directed movie ever. Silly nonsensical plot that has so many loopholes and mistakes it can't be taken seriously. The massage scene is a laugh riot to watch. The fact this creep can just walk in at his leisure is another funny fact. The actors were dreadful. I blame the script for this. But never having been a fan of C Thomas Howell, he was the worst. He overacted the entire film. Comes off as a weakling husband against the hard hearted wife played by Maxim Roy. Then there's the villain played by Jay Underwood, a Howell look a-like, who seems to go around the movie with a smirk on his face. That's the extent of his acting. Mark Camacho was the only redeeming actor in this film. He managed to make a few realistic moments along the way.
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