If the perpetually gloomy weather has you contemplating a Saturday night on the sofa with some popcorn and your PJs, Lifetime has the perfect TV movie to occupy your time. Based on a true story and starring Drea de Matteo, Mena Suvari and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Stalkers takes the woman-in-peril theme that the network does so well and amps it up with genuine scares and tough-cookie ladies who carry the show.
Well, and also, Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue) to look at, which makes everything that much better if you ask me.
Originally tapped as a possible back-door pilot, a la Jennifer Love Hewitt’s The Client List, Stalkers stars de Matteo as Detective Diane Harkins, a moody transplant on the Seattle police force, and O’Keefe as idealistic Assistant District Attorney Julia Winston who battles to get things done in a sea of good old boys and political shenanigans.
Both women are harboring secrets and doubts that drive them personally and professionally — and when the first case to which she is assigned leads Harkins to discover a shocking number of stalking cases that have been all but ignored, she hunts down the ADA and discovers she has actually an ally in Winston. Soon enough, the women must team up to try to save a quiet young woman named Jen (Lela Loren, The Shield) from her former lover Ivy (Suvari) whose cop-thwarting stalking skills have left Jen housebound and terrorized. That Winston was instrumental (with the emphasis on instrument) in returning Ivy to the streets after earlier attacks on Jen lends some oomph to Harkins’ and Winston’s give-and-take and what motivates both women.
The film is culled from the book Whisper of Fear: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Stalks the Stalkers, written by California prosecutor Rhonda Saunders who established S.T.A.T. (Stalking and Threat Assessment Team) for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the L.A. Stalking Task Force. As the film’s version of Saunders, O’Keefe makes her character credible, despite the sort of naughty-librarian wardrobe that television loves to foist on its female attorneys. De Matteo — best known for playing doomed mob-moll-turned-mole Adriana La Cerva in the Sopranos and rough-edged Wendy Case in Sons of Anarchy — does her signature good job of playing wounded and warrior.
My biggest complaint about Stalkers is Suvari who — while undeniably amusing to watch — is mostly so camp as the crazy that I’m amazed her costars could keep a straight face, despite the serious scenes.
Lifetime has since revealed that Stalkers will be not become a series, which is a shame, because the film’s ending clearly indicates that that was, at one point, intended to happen. And kinda makes you wish it still would.
Stalkers premieres Saturday, April 13 at 9/8CT on Lifetime.