Next time a stranger offers to pay for that coffee …

(From IMDb.com)

(From IMDb.com)

Oh, her life looks so good. Big house on a beautiful street, with a slightly nosy neighbor who’s really just looking out for her. Great job, a decision-maker and rising star in a major lobbyist firm. But, wait.

In this thriller written by Tyger Williams and directed by David M. Rosenthal, something has to shake up Leah’s best laid plans. So longtime boyfriend Dave, although so great with kids at parties, again does not abide with her ticking clock in that talk. Despite all that love, they go their separate ways. Lo and behold, though, a sweet-looking guy steps in at a bar to save her from an aggressive bore. She remembers him as the gent who not only let her take his cup of joe at a shop because she was months ago because she seemed in such a rush, but bought it, too.

She talks him into dinner.

So it begins, more than a third of this film’s 100 minutes in a sparsely attended Friday matinée in the Regal Cinemas theater in Syracuse’s mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA, doe-eyed Carter doing every dang thing right to win her over. He even gets hard-guy pops, played by always-good-to-see veteran Charles S. Dutton, on his side with hard-to-get baseball tickets.

Yes, beautiful actress Sanaa Lathan and mysteriously coiled actor Michael Ealy do seem to be building a chemistry here as Leah and Carter.

Then an awful 30-second episode changes the way she sees him. Forever. But not the way he looks at her.

Let the stalking begin. Physically. Cyber-world. Psychologically.

Morris Chestnut is rock solid as Dave, who re-enters her world in an attempt to right his wrong and get this stalker dude gone forever. Holt McCallany is pretty terrific as a sympathetic detective whose hands are tied by the law but who isn’t afraid to cross the friendship line with (real-)worldly advice.

Sure, the plot is predictable as the bad guy’s evil escalates. But Lathan’s resolve and transformation as Leah is something to behold.

And so I sat in the dark and wondered, with a shudder, what lines could I cross?

Do movies about stalkers get you more scared or more angry, and why? What would constitute a stranger’s offer as too nice to you, and why? Have you ever offered help and been turned down, and wondered why, and if so, what was the situation?

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35 thoughts on “Next time a stranger offers to pay for that coffee …

  1. I don’t have time in life for stalking, so stalker movies don’t do it for me. 😀 But, I have to say MBM, you did a wicked review here and I would be tempted…..

    I have had offers of help, from me, turned down. But I never got the feeling it was because someone was too concerned about their safety. More of an unwillingness or inability to accept help from the other. I would understand people refusing for these reasons though….

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  2. Excellent review Mark- I hate stalkers and stalker movies. That’s pretty strong language but the topic warrants it. I am careful about offering help as I can seem threatening at 6’3″ and 250 pounds. Generally I don’t do it unless there is a safety issue at stake. Ha! I had just bought a used truck – my first – and I was leaving Halifax in a pounding thunder storm. There was a young woman standing on the shoulder hitchhiking miles from any buildings. She was drenched and shivering and I stopped to pick her up. I realized after the fact that the reason she was standing there was because she was paranoid and a previous driver had put her out. She started out by voicing the opinion that I must have been waiting and watching for her to start hitchhiking so I could pick her up – basically accusing me of stalking with a 70 foot loaded tractor trailer. I just nodded, whatever. When I bought the tuck, the previous owner had put a sticker in the dashboard. It read:

    “Born on a Mountain,
    Raised in a cave,
    F**king and trucking,
    Are all I crave.”

    (without the asterisks)

    And a second sticker that read:

    “Ass, gas or grass,
    Nobody rides for free.”

    My hitchhiker read this and sort of squished herself against the door to be as far from me as possible in the small cab. I explained why they were there but it was obvious that she wasn’t convinced. I pulled into the department of Highways Truck Inspection Platform and stopped on the scales. She opened the door and jumped into the rain. She ran up the entrance ramp and then climbed down into the ditch and stood in the puddle. Ha! The truck inspector called me inside. When i went in he said: “You are heavy but not heavy enough that you had to throw out your girlfriend for the truck to be of legal weight.” I laughed and told him the story.

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    • It makes me sad that things happen where people indeed must be wary in this way, Paul. That guy who put the bumper stickers on your first truck did nobody any favors. Who thinks anybody of any gender would find those to be alluring? Stereotype of the 70s, I know. I lived through the times, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t usually like stalker films because of violence in my own life. They just don’t entertain because I get too scared and put myself in the story. But I started writing a thriller and watching a few older thrillers, and I realized that there is a real great feeling watching the guy (or lady) get it at the end. Good guy wins. Wish that always happened in life right?

      I got myself to watch Fatal Attraction back in the day and watching that great wife get the goods on Glenn Close was awesome. I still never believed a man would cheat on Anne Archer but I know good women and men get cheated on all the time.

      Great review 🙂 actually tempts me to go see it. The lovely actress would look better if they had not airbrushed her chest in my not so humble opinion.

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  3. I watch this show on Investigation Discovery about stalkers. I always wonder to myself, where do these people find the time and energy to stalk others. Do they have jobs? Or to be a really good stalker do you have to be independently wealthy? I like stalking movies, but they kind of freak me out.
    I think I was stalked by this one guy back in the 90s. I had taken a drive down the Oregon coast. And I kept on seeing this creepy man in a white van. I saw him like three or four times along my trip. He would be parked on the beach, sitting in the back of the van, just watching me (at several different beaches along the way). Really scared the snot out of me. I just decided to turn around and head straight back home to Seattle. I was paranoid for months after that. Unfortunately, one has to be careful and on the look out for odd things, strange people and you can’t help but question people’s motives.

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  4. I don’t tend to watch these types of movies only because been there, done that (before the internet too!). Also, like you mention, it does seem to get a little predictable at some point.

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  5. I like it when the chick wins. Unless it’s a female stalker, then I hope Beyonce wins. At least in that one movie. Beyonce always wins, doesn’t she?
    But I did have one guy that was toooo helpful. It was a weird situation. I was much younger and at a crazy vampire bar. Anyway, I did listen to my instincts that time. A few weeks later, he was arrested for killing a girl. On top of that, he was married. I didn’t go back to the bar ever.

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    • Smart move back then, Hollie. So awful for the other girl. Hate that guy.

      Yes, how can Beyonce not win? She got her rich and successful husband in real life, and she picks her scripts in Hollywood, and makes her own music. Win. Win. Win.

      Cycling back, when I first started commenting on your fine blog years ago, you asked me if I was stalking you, kidding-like. Now I understand better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’ll give me nightmares! No stalkers or horror movies allowed for me anymore:). But I’m glad you enjoyed it . . . just watched I’ll See You in My Dreams last night. A tearjerker but well done . . . now that I can handle:).

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  7. Yes, the movie looks a bit predictable. I thought there was just a J. Lo movie with a similar plot. Anyway, maybe not too bad from what you describe but I’m sure the kids will give it a big thumbs down.

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  8. I am glad you felt watching it was at least interesting I like to see good suspenseful movies, gets my adrenaline going. I an going to look at a few of your other film reviews. Carrie and I were appalled at the gross and demeaning level that M. Night Shamaylian took in “The Visit.” I hope if you saw it you were uncomfortable with it, too. One brother agreed and said this sad statement, “The fine director has lost it! He has gone over the deep end.” (I loved “Sixth Sense,” and thought the psychological themes of “Lady in the Lake” and “The Village” were interesting. Not gross or outrageous. . . 😦
    Off to see if you watched this movie, Mark. Have a great rest of the week!

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