Casey Needs Good Will
"Shadow of Fear", also known as "Dangerous Attraction", starts by telling us it is based on real events. That may be the case but for all sense and purposes it plays out like your usual run of the mill stalker movie, a young woman finds her life turned upside down by a mysterious man who follows her, sends her letters and persistently calls her. But there are a couple of things which makes "Shadow of Fear" a bit more interesting starting with the mystery surrounding the stalker because he seems untouchable. And then there is the fact that whilst run of the mill it feels authentic delivering an insight into the judicial system, the effect on the woman's life as well as the derangement of the actual stalker.
Casey Cooper (Amanda Righetti - Wandering Eye) has a lust for life, she runs, writes for a local paper, works in a local coffee shop and also in a bar by night where people love her. But that all changes when she encounters Morgan Pierce (Will Estes) who comes to work in the coffee shop as after flipping out disappears and then starts stalking her; leaving letters, repeatedly calling and following her in the streets when he's not watching her home. Distraught Casey learns that the police can't do a thing because he has never threatened her leaving her helpless to stop her life crumbling away in fear of what Morgan may do.
So as already mentioned "Shadow of Fear" is based on real events but it feels like someone has written a stalker story because it follows the path of so many other movies which tackle the subject of stalkers. As such we have the familiar aspects of watching Casey's life destroyed by fear due to the incessant calls, letters and the fact she knows that Morgan is watching her. What makes it a little more interesting is that we also have intrigue over Morgan because Det. Leary, who is called in to work the case, is unable to access his records. It makes you wonder what his history is and who is protecting him although we learn reasonably early on that his stalking stems from the fact he is not taking medication to control his schizophrenia.
But the thing is that whilst "Shadow of Fear" has a storyline which feels standard it also feels authentic starting with the character of Casey played by Amanda Righetti. Watching Casey go from being vibrant and strong to frightened and paranoid is a slow transition and a believable one to the point of complete breakdown. But what is just as good is that when she finally has the police on her side and they go after Morgan there is no sudden transformation back to how she was, there is improvement, there is confidence but the fact she has been permanently changed by that fear is still there.
That sense of authenticity extends to Will Estes as Morgan who the first time we see him can sense he is not completely normal. The thing is that Estes gets the element of paranoia of his own character right giving us moments of silence followed by a snap of rage. It is captivating and also creepy, much of which is thanks to some powerful dialogue, but also because Estes never over steps the mark and makes him too much of a lunatic, stepping it up gradually.
But what is also so nice about "Shadow of Fear" is that it also allows us a look at the judicial system and what Casey encounters. Now it may sound a cliche but the first thing we have is the police suspecting that Casey may have led Morgan on, almost seeming uninterested by what she has to say. But then we get the more interesting aspect that the law are helpless to act unless Morgan actually threatens Casey and with him toying with her sending letters, following and calling her it is not or at least at the time, enough for them to act.
What this all boils down to is that "Shadow of Fear" is a very watchable movie which whilst delivers what seems a standard stalker storyline manages to also attain a level of authenticity in many aspects of what happens when someone is being stalked.