Mena Suvari’s “Stalkers” is a big Sapphic mess

Caution: Mild spoilers ahead.

Tomorrow night on Lifetime, Drea de Matteo stars as a hard-nosed cop named Diane who is not afraid to rough up suspects in Stalkers. Meanwhile, Julia (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) is attempting to get funding for an anti-stalking task force. The two are not able to find the support they need from their own teams (damn The Man!) so they join forces to help a stalking victim named Jane (Lela Loren), who is being stalked by her ex-lover, Ivy (Mena Suvari).

Let me take this opportunity to say that I am a huge fan of cheesy Lifetime movies, and have seen several that have had to do with obsessive exes and tortured but tough-as-nail women. Many of them are so bad they’re good, but Stalkers is just really, really bad. It had all the elements in place: an all-star cast, a popular premise, lesbians — unfortunately, there was too much going on and a really offensive story at its center.

Jane and Ivy meet while drunk in the elevator after their work holiday parties. It doesn’t take Ivy long to decide she has to “possess Jane,” despite the fact Jane has a boyfriend named Sean and Ivy is telling stories about having sex with boring men. Ivy comes off like a predator, making a move on Jane after sabotaging Sean’s business and Jane sobbing that she’ll “be alone forever!” Their “sexual affair” goes on for six months, despite Jane saying she never considered herself bisexual, but thought “everyone has had those feelings,” motioning at Diane while being interviewed, who acts incredulous at the suggestion.

Ivy is just plain crazy, which Mena Suvari plays well, despite the eyeroll-worthy and predictable dialogue. She assaults Jane in the night, knows her every move, and burns down her boyfriend’s bakery. Jane’s scared for her life, and Detective Diane confides in her that she, too, has been a victim of stalking. In fact, she’s hiding from her ex-husband for her own safety. Foreshadowing alert!

Without ruining the entire film (like you don’t know how it will all play out), I’ll say that there is some salacious Sapphic stuff but mostly the women in the film end up looking like their emotions will always get the best of them, causing them to do wild things! Sure, everyone is flawed in real life, but it’s hard to find something redeemable in most of the characters when there are too many players with too many different things at stake. The movie is only an hour and a half long but felt like it went on forever. The subtext in Single White Female was hotter and a way better movie.

What’s strange about Stalkers is that it’s based on a a book called Whisper of Fear: The True Story of the Prosecutor who Stalks the Stalkers, which is a true account of real-life prosecutor Rhonda B. Saunders. But in the book, the lesbians case she worked on was a lot less sexy than the Lifetime version. From the book:

The attraction between the two women seemed odd on the surface. Susan was twenty-eight, fully twenty years younger than Jane, and not nearly as well educated or refined in her tastes. She worked as a train engineer, and spent little time on her clothes or appearance. She also had a moustache and a heavy unibrow. My impression upon later meeting Susan was that she reminded me of one of Charles Manson’s women, with her long, lanky hair and crazy eyes.

Not exactly a spot-on description of Mena Suvari.

One interesting fact from the book is that out politician Shiela Kuehl was a State Senator at the time and helped to pass a stalking statute in California. That would have been an interesting addition to the Lifetime movie! Perhaps this is yet another case where the book is better than the movie.

Stalkers premieres on Lifetime Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m.