The Stranger Beside Me (1995) starring Tiffani Thiessen, Eric Close, Lorrie Morgan, Steven Eckholdt, Casey Sander, Alyson Hannigan, Gary Grubbs, Patrick Labyorteaux directed by Sandor Stern Movie Review

The Stranger Beside Me (1995)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Tiffani Thiessen in The Stranger Beside Me (1995)

In Bed with a Rapist

Jennifer (Tiffani Thiessen - The Ladies' Man) has for a long time been dedicated to her wheelchair bound boss Dave (Gerald McRaney - Deadly Vows) but in truth is using it as an excuse not to go out and date as two years earlier she was a rape victim. But then enter Chris Gallagher (Eric Close) who sweeps Jennifer of her feet, is understanding about her past and promises to protect her. Soon they are getting married although on their wedding day Jennifer meets Chris's cousin Dana (Alyson Hannigan - My Stepmother Is an Alien) who gives her the impression that maybe Chris has a secret. And soon Jennifer realises what that secret is when Chris gets arrested for being a peeping Tom, although sticks by him. But when a rapist starts striking in the area where they live Jennifer becomes to suspect that Chris may be the rapist.

It is a sad fact but if you come across a made for TV movie which features attractive stars that made their names on popular TV shows then the movie is likely to not be that great although popular with fans of the actors. That may sound harsh but time and again I have watched a TV movie with an attractive star of a TV show and the movie has become dominated by their looks rather than what happens. It is what happens to "The Stranger Beside Me" because Tiffani Thiessen and Eric Close are attractive and it dominates the movie.

Eric Close in The Stranger Beside Me (1995)

It's a shame because the actual story is in itself not bad or should I say the basic idea is good, which probably won't surprise you to learn is inspired by a true story. The thing is that the attractiveness of the cast ends up dominating it so in a scene where Chris creepily demands Jennifer to take off her clothes is not about the sense of fear and confusion which Jennifer feels but all about how attractive Thiessen is. What that means is that whilst the storyline evolves with Chris turning out to be nasty piece of work and Jennifer suspecting him of being dangerous the depth of the drama never materialises.

Now if you are a fan of either Tiffani Thiessen or Eric Close you will probably disagree with me but their acting is not great. Thiessen never once manages to be convincing when it comes to the emotional side of her character be it when revealing her past to Chris or dealing with being unsure about him. At the same time Eric Close never once delivers the psychotic power of his character, when as Chris he snaps all it comes across as is an actor shouting his lines rather than being believably angry. As I said it is their looks which dominate the movie and if you want to watch a movie with attractive people that you might have once had a crush on then you've got it. On a side note "The Stranger Beside Me" has a few familiar faces such as Gerald McRaney, Gary Grubbs and Alyson Hannigan who when we first meet her at the wedding is wearing a hideous ruffled bridesmaid dress which would make anyone miserable.

What this all boils down to is that "The Stranger Beside Me" has a good storyline but is undone by who ever cast Tiffani Thiessen and Eric Close in the central roles as their looks dominate the movie. If it wasn't for the fact the basic storyline is good this would sadly border on the poor.