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Lifetime Review: 'Stalked at 17'

A teenage girl falls for the charms of an unstable man in this solid but formulaic Lifetime film.

With college just around the corner, things for Angela Curson (Taylor Spreitler) are a bit tense. With her father's work situation creating financial tension in her home, Angela is bearing some of that pressure. During a college tour with her friend Tenaya (Shavon Kirksey), Angela meets the handsome and charming Chad Bruning (Charles Hittinger, back in his days as going by Chuck), with their chance encounter quickly leading to a relationship.

But soon after losing her virginity to Chad, Angela is stunned to learn she's pregnant—and even more stunned to learn that Chad is more than happy to start a life with her and their love child. After learning from Chad's adoptive mother, Lauren (Linda Purl), about Chad's relationship with Angela, her parents Mark and Karen (Brian Krause and Amy Pietz) become determined to keep Chad away from their daughter. But as Angela has begun to see, Chad is not prepared to give up Angela without a fight—and will not stop until he has the perfect family he's always wanted.

The general plot thread of Stalked at 17 is far from something unseen on Lifetime. It's the standard story of a young vulnerable girl meeting an older man who initially appears sweet and attentive, only for him to later reveal himself as possessive and more than a little mentally unstable. This ends up being the film's biggest downfall, because for the most part, Stalked at 17 doesn't give us anything that hasn't been done before (and done better) by previous works in Lifetime's catalog. While Angela's pregnancy does add more weight to the "Psycho Boyfriend" plot, it doesn't do much to change up the formulaic pace of the story.

Frustratingly enough, though, Angela and Chad's somewhat illicit relationship leading to a pregnancy does open up the potential for a deeper plot. Throughout the film's second half, as the relationship is exposed and Angela's parents make it clear they don't want Chad to continue seeing Angela, there's a sadly underdeveloped story regarding Chad's rights as a father. Despite his willingness to take responsibility and help Angela in raising their love child, no one really takes that to heart and simply focuses on the "inappropriate" age difference between Angela and Chad of a mere five years.

While it could be argued that Chad took advantage of Angela in a vulnerable time and he's quickly shown to be dangerously possessive and controlling in regards to how they should start a life together, this is initially not the reason Angela's parents want to keep them apart. While Karen's reason for wanting to keep Angela and Chad apart is to allow Angela to decide on her own how to handle her pregnancy, Mark (who is already shown to be gruff towards Angela due to his work troubles) seems to initially only care about the fact that Chad is an older man who her daughter has fallen for. While he does ultimately become more focused on the fact that his daughter has fallen for a possessive manipulator, Mark (and by extension Lauren, who shares his initial views) comes off as just as controlling as Chad becomes and makes it hard to root for their initial efforts to keep Chad out of the life of his unborn child.

Casting wise, though, everyone gives a strong performance. Taylor Spreitler makes for a strongly likable and realistic teenage protagonist without becoming bratty or unsympathetic, while Charles Hittinger paints Chad as an authentic and all-too-true-to-life depiction of a possessive and emotionally abusive predator without dissolving into cliche Crazy Boyfriend territory. The supporting cast (mostly made up of Lifetime regulars) also do well, with Shavon Kirksey using her limited screen time to shine as Angela's incredibly supportive and likable friend. Lifetime regular Jamie Luner also appears as Chad's recently paroled mother, who strikes an interesting balance of a mother desperately trying to make amends to her son (albeit in a highly unorthodox way) and a woman willing to resort to villainous methods to reclaim the life she threw away.

Overall, Stalked at 17 is a true mixed bag in quality, with the great acting and stabs at character depth among the parents of the feature doing good to make up for the formulaic story and unfortunate implications regarding the plot triggering relationship. None of these flaws are deal breakers and many might find Stalked at 17 to be a decent little flick to watch during a lazy weekend, but it's unfortunately not up to snuff with some of the films in the "At 17" saga.

Score: 6 out of 10 gas station bathrooms.

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Lifetime Review: 'Stalked at 17'
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