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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: The Lurker

Director: Eric Liberacki
Screenplay: John Lerchen
Year: 2020

A group of school students works on a theater play, which has been very successful. After their last show, they begin to be stalked by a masked figure and they start disappearing one by one. The rest of the play’s cast must discover the motives of this killer to try and save their lives.

“The Lurker” follows the slasher formula, presenting as an antagonist a villain disguised as a plague doctor, a look that only serves as an aesthetic element and has nothing to do with the events of the movie or with the killer’s motivation. The tension and creativity in the kills are the most important parts of a slasher and while this movie doesn’t surprise in the former, it does a good job in the latter. However, the deaths, although they show the gore, happen quickly, most likely to hide some of the limitations of the practical effects, that in the end doesn’t look bad at all. 

The main issue with “The Lurker” is that since early you suspect who the villain is. I don’t know if slasher movies have lost that talent of keeping the viewer in doubt until the very end or if being a seasoned fan in this sort of movies eases catching some of the foreshadowing elements, but I have noted this problem in several recent slashers (“Midnight Kiss” comes to mind). Often the director Eric Liberacki (“Spoiled Fruit’) ad takes, dialogues or situations with the purpose of potting several persons on the list of suspects, but to no avail. 

The other problem of this movie is its cast, that beyond some poor acting from some of the actors, most of them look way too old for their parts. The protagonist Scout Taylor-Compton (“Halloween” 2007) does a good job in her performance but is never able to overcome her appearance and make the viewer think that she really is a high school student, something that gathers importance in the plot. The work of the rest of the cast is a mix of lights and shadows with  Michael Emery (“Bone Tomahawk) and Isabel Thompson (“Chicago P. D.”) completing the protagonist circle and with cameos from Naomi Grossman (“American Horror Story”) and Ari Lehman (“Friday the 13th”).

The background score is another area in which “The Lurker” tries to do a good job but overuses the great tracks and in some moments are too present on the scene. The same thing happens with the flashback or preemptive techniques, that end up being overused and creating more confusion than clarification. The script of John Lerchen (“The Pale Man”) similarly presents poor dialogues, as well as interesting situations that support the neutrality achieved by the balance of negative things contrasted with positive ones that are repeated throughout the movie. 

“The Lurker” does as many things right as it does wrong to fall into that neutral space where it is neither a good nor a bad movie, it just exists in that realm where movies fall into forgetfulness for not having anything to remember it for. Even when it fails in several technical and narrative aspects, it presents an interesting story and an unexpected well-crafted turn near the end. “The Lurker” is a movie influenced by the great slashers of the ‘80s, shown with the clear reference to Crystal Lake and the explicit gore, but that never finds the key that made these movies memorable.

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