Koch Vision // 1998 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Evans (Retired) // June 7th, 2006
"A chilling insight into the mind of a calculating killer."
Based on a novel by M.S. Power, this understated psychological thriller ratchets up the tension in an intriguing tale of a serial killer and his unwitting protégé. The bare-bones disc offers only the film, although the overall quality of the picture was an unexpected surprise and well worth a look.
Young book editor Marcus Walwyn (British television star Gideon Turner) becomes intrigued with an anonymous writer whose manuscript highlights the inner workings of a psycho killer's mind. The novel could even be a blueprint for plotting the perfect murder. When Marcus spots a beautiful woman on the train to work, his lust quickly turns to obsession. Soon he is following the young woman, discovering where she lives and works.
Late at night, Marcus pores over the manuscript, marvels at the detailed descriptions of the killer's methodology, and begins to form a plan of his own. The manuscript contains all the information he needs for eliminating all obstacles to his dream girl, including her fiancé. Soon, corpses are turning up on the outskirts of London.
A determined police inspector (Peter Davison, Black Beauty), still haunted by his failure to stop a madman some years ago, starts to see similarities between this latest spate of killings and the handiwork of his old nemesis. The inspector was too late to catch the earlier killer before three more murders were committed. Now, the aging psychopath is released from prison for good behavior (and, evidently, inadequate prosecution).
This taut, made-for-television thriller from Britain was a nice find. Less a mystery than a cat-and-mouse suspense film, The Stalker's Apprentice plays like a PG-13 version of the heavily edited television products that make their way to the states via BBC America. This is to say, for a TV production the film delivers a fair amount of sex, discreet nudity, and violence in the service of an unpredictable story.
Plot holes great and small may undermine the credibility of the story, depending on one's tolerance for lapses in logic. At a relatively brief 76 minutes, the plot zips along with economy and a fair degree of production style, considering the modest budget.
Fans of British television, especially droll police procedurals, would do well to give this modest disc a spin. Virtually all of the cast continue to work in television, although the programming may be unfamiliar to Yanks.
Though he may be guilty of murder most foul, The Stalker's Apprentice is acquitted on grounds of delivering well beyond this court's expectations -- no small feat in age of obscure DVD drivel when anything that can be digitized on a disc is soon unleashed on an unsuspecting consumer market.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated