Stephanie – USA, 2017

Stephanie is a 2017 American horror feature film directed by Akiva Goldsman (writer of A Beautiful Mind; I, Robot; Batman Forever and Batman & Robin) from a story by Ben Collins and screenplay by Luke Piotrowski.

The movie stars Anna Torv, Frank Grillo, Kenneth Choi and Shree Crooks. It was produced by Blumhouse Productions, Chapter One Films, Gotham Group and Unbroken Pictures.

Review:

Abandoned by her parents after a global crisis, a young girl is left to fend for herself in the family home with only stuffed toys, her imagination and her brother’s corpse to keep her company. Stephanie (Shree Crooks) is an intriguing character, her inexperience leading to a couple of nail-biting scenes.

It’s unknown for a good portion of the film what led to current events, with glimpses of news broadcasts and a supernatural entity that causes destruction around the house. Stephanie’s unnamed parents eventually return and apologise for leaving, claiming that they believed the monster had killed her.

The couple’s unease of their daughter becomes increasingly obvious, and while her dad (Frank Grillo) shows tenderness, Stephanie’s mum (Anna Torv) seems aloof at times.

After burying their son, Paul, Dad starts building a fence around the property and carries a gun on him at all times. We also see circular scars on Mum’s stomach that resemble the tentacle-like arms of the shadowy monster. When Paul’s body returns after being thrown through the attic window, Dad uses hypnosis on Stephanie to make her remember the night they left.

The truth brings with it dangerous repercussions, and as possessed Stephanie begins to wreak chaos, her parents must fight to save themselves as well as their daughter; unfortunately, the phenomena isn’t limited to just Stephanie. 

While lacking in scares, Stephanie is a mishmash of genres with a plot that keeps you guessing until the end. Shree plays the role well as a young actress, and with such a small cast, characterisation flaws are more noticeable in regards to the parents’ often indifferent reactions to Stephanie’s plight.

The film is resonant of Carrie with a twist of science fiction, let down by some moments in the final battle that make the enemy more funny than formidable to the less sensitive viewer.

Rae Louise, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“Every uninventive fright comes courtesy of a quick volume knob turn, never the atmosphere. When tension is built, it comes with small stakes of wondering whether or not Stephanie is going to cut her foot on broken glass or some other household danger. Stephanie is so insular and expands so gradually that interest in wherever it is going can’t help but evaporate along the way.” Culture Crypt

” …the movie works best as an unsettling mood piece told from the perspective of an unreliable narrative who’s too immature to comprehend the scope of the horror surrounding her. It’s a surprising move for Goldsman, but also a reasonable calling card for his upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter — another creepy kid movie, this one with much more baggage attached.” IndieWire

Release:

Stephanie was released on DVD in North America on May 1, 2018, by Universal.

Cast and characters:

  • Anna Torv … Stephanie’s mother
  • Frank Grillo … Stephanie’s father
  • Kenneth Choi
  • Shree Crooks … Stephanie
  • Jonah Beres … Paul

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