It’s time to look at another film with an annoying main character. This one’s not the worst lead or anything, but she does seem to be incredibly naive and not one of the smartest leads out there. Still, when it was crunch time Julie did her best to stand up to the danger. This is a pretty good thriller that builds up to a nice climax. You will need to suspend a lot of disbelief of course, but that’s to be expected.
The film starts with Julie running to her car after her husband Lyle had another public episode of getting upset over her. He gets violently dangerous whenever a guy even talks to Julie. She gets in the car and warns Lyle that maybe they can’t be together anymore. He responds by forcing her to drive the car at max speed for a while and they nearly fall off a cliff. He then warns her that it was an accident and he’s sorry about it. Another way to think of it is that these accidents will occur more and more unless she stops talking to other men. Julie is surprisingly fine with this so then her friend Cliff shows up and reminds Julie that Lyle is a dangerous murderer. Lyle murdered her first husband and will stop at nothing to claim her. Julie must now escape from Lyle and try to establish a new identity, but Lyle seems to be around every corner. Can she possibly shake such a skilled stalker or is this the end for her?
A situation like this is always pretty tough to escape from and Julie’s first actions don’t help matters. See, you’ve usually got just one shot to get out because after that the guy will suspect something. So Julie tries to leave first thing in the morning, but Lyle is already up so she has to make a ton of excuses to leave. He doesn’t buy any of them but decides to pretend to leave to see what she’ll do. Here’s where Lyle slipped up since he damages her car but goes so far away that she is able to run to town. (Thanks in part to hitch hiking) From there the film is mainly about Julie running from place to place and trying to stay ahead of him.
This is where it’s a little hard to buy that Lyle is following her everywhere. He finds out what state she is in, which hotel, etc. The film does try to give reasons for how he finds these things out like by asking operators for her place or just deducing which state she would likely flee to. At the same time, you still can’t help but feel a little skeptical at times. Julie used a pseudonym for these journeys and there are still a lot of hotels in each state. Just knowing what state Julie is in wouldn’t be enough for Lyle to find her so easily. The whole time I figured that Cliff was a traitor leaking info to Lyle or just a villain who wanted Julie for himself. It’s good that Julie did actually have an ally, but at the same time it did mean that it was harder to buy into the Lyle scenes.
Meanwhile, while Julie may not have been the best character, you could still root for her. As far as villains go Lyle definitely wasn’t anything special. He’s one of those petty villains who just wants Julie at any cost. You really can’t even like him as a villain because his motivations aren’t solid and there’s nothing interesting about him. Also, since Julie was 100% fooled if he had just played the part of the nice guy they could have actually been together. When the villain creates his own problems then that just makes him even worse.
As for Cliff, he is a good guy. His arc really didn’t go as I expected it to, but at the end of the day I can’t hold that against him. He probably could have handled some of the early situations a little better though. He was being pretty obvious with Julie in front of Lyle, but at the same time it was imperative that he convince her of the truth right away so in that sense his plan worked. He also did at least try to escape when he was held hostage although I dare say that going for the gun is always the best move in that situation. I dare say that it’s best to make a final lunge and attack the guy with the gun rather than getting in the car. Once you’re in the car your chances of survival are close to 0 unless you’re in an action film. So, even if you might die during the charge your odds are better. Trust me, getting in the car is never the right move.
Unfortunately the film does end on a bit of a whimper. It probably has one of the worst climaxes that I’ve seen in a very long time. Nothing happens for a long period of time and what should have been a very thrilling plane sequence ends up feeling rather dull. You’re just sort of waiting for the film to get on with it. Whatever the idea was for the ending it simply should have gone with a different option. I did like the tension on the plane before this, but it all doesn’t play out as you’d hope. I also felt bad for the pilot who was doing a good job the whole time, but faltered at the very end.
Overall, the script is pretty solid and the film will definitely keep you engaged all the way through. It’s a pretty classic thriller and definitely one that holds up. It actually grabs a lot of the beats that you might see in a modern film even if the effects don’t allow for it to go all the way with big car chases or anything like that. Of course, how much you enjoy the film will probably depend on how the first half affects you. Julie is just a very tough lead since she isn’t very sharp which can make it a whole lot harder to root for her. Still, I think you’ll be fine and while it’s not a great thriller, it’s a solid one nonetheless.