Stephanie is an interesting film. I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued by the name alone. As a horror fan I knew this was a movie I had to see before it was too late.
This is one of those BlumHouse productions. It didn’t get a theatrical release, it was straight-to-video which is fine by me as the movie feels right at home on Netflix, where I watched it obviously.
It follows a little girl who’s name is Stephanie. What you get up front is she is seemingly isolated in a house by herself with no adults to be seen. It starts out creepy enough with her talking to her stuffed animals and walking around the empty house as if nothing is wrong. It doesn’t take long for the suspense. The opening scene has you cringing as she sticks her hand into a blender that is turned on. She is attempting to jam the machine. This sets the tone for the whole film. You feel afraid for this little girl the entirety of the feature.
It is immediately hinted there is a monster coming for the little girl. She hides from it when it does enter the house. She knows she has to keep quiet and think happy thoughts to make it go away. It isn’t until you find her beating the corpse of her dead brother when you realize how troubled this girl really is. She is afraid for her life and there are no adults around to protect her.
The first half of the film is very intense, very suspenseful and very scary. It isn’t until her parents show up that you start to learn of the global pandemic that is plaguing humanity. The details of which are not revealed entirely. What is known is the children are hexed in some way and the adults are terribly frightened as a result.
The dad spends the rest of the movie building what looks like a play house built into a fence around the perimeter of the house. The mother, on the other hand, spends her time communicating with members of the military or CDC, it is unclear, discussing the current research regarding whatever it is that haunts the children.
As the movie progresses the scares continue. You begin to learn what the monster is and what it is after. It is unclear the motive of the monster and it is unclear its origin. By the end of the film, what is clear is humanity is in a dire situation.
The scares are quite nice. The atmosphere is intense and exactly what I want in a horror film. As someone who thrives on living alone I can absolutely relate to the isolation the child feels. There is an ominous sense of impending doom as the monster continues to torment the child but not taking her life.
There is a scene where the little girl is holding her dead brothers hand and talking to him as if he is still alive. This scene reveals exactly what the girl is going through. She is coming to terms with her place in the world. She reads her stuffed animal a bedtime story about a unicorn that had two horns. As she finishes the story she says to her doll how sad it is because the Unicorn, although did get a friend, didn’t get what it wished for. This plays into the theme of the film. The child wants her family back, safe and sound. But she can’t have her wish in the way she wants it.
The movie was almost spoiled for me by the very last shot. It was otherwise a extremely satisfying and enjoyable experience.
The music sets the mood. The cinematography is fantastic and the girl’s acting is top notch. You believe her. As the movie nears it climax there is a moment where the monster says “You should have killed me when you had the chance,” from there the film takes a dark turn.
I classify this as an instant rewatch for me. I imagine that upon a second viewing the tension might dissipate but there is so much for shadowing that I believe it bears worthy of a repeat viewing.
This movie delivered exactly what I wanted. It was a chilling and engaging enough story I watched it sans screens. That is rare for me. I even had to watch with the lights on because otherwise it might have been scarier.
It has flaws like any film. It doesn’t build up to the reveal. You kind of suspect something supernatural is taking place throughout. That’s not to say the twist isn’t a surprise, it was, but it also felt obvious once it was revealed. The nightmares also rely too much on jump scares, which I admit the film got me more than once in that regard so kudos to the filmmakers.
The movie gets a solid 4 out of five stars from me. It dragged a little. 45 minutes into the film I checked the time bar to see how much time was left because it felt like a full 90 minutes had already passed. It moves as a snails pace in order to build the tension. If not for that drag in the middle and the cheap jump scares during the dream sequence I would have rated it higher. 4.5 is pretty damn good. This is one I will get on DVD. I highly recommend. I watched it back to back with The Ring and it ad a similar feel to that movie, in some respects.