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Lifetime must've seen the large buzz generated by Stalked by My Doctor and realized that what they had was, unlike most of their movies-of-the-week, could be something they could make into a movie series. For a year after its' release, Stalked by My Doctor received a sequel that had Eric Roberts returning to his role as deranged hebephiliac Dr. Albert Beck.
After the first movie, Albert fled to Mexico to escape the authorities and is now living there under an assumed name — while continuing his search for the perfect woman for him. His "search" seems to pan out for him when he saves the life of teenager Amy Watkins (Claire Blackwelder), who nearly drowned on the beach while vacationing with her mother Linda (Hilary Greer). Following his rescue of Amy, Beck takes the risk of being caught by returning to the United States, eventually using what little information he had on Amy to locate her. After striking up a friendship with Amy and her boyfriend Garth (Mark Grossman), Beck begins a plan of keeping himself in Amy's life — by romancing Linda, who has been left psychologically damaged following the death of Amy's father.
Eventually, Amy begins to feel uncomfortable regarding Beck's behavior around her, with Linda being blinded by her love for him and believing Amy to be lying about him. But soon, as Amy tries to eject Beck from her life, the crazed former doctor resorts to his old ways to have Amy for his own — and get Linda out of the way permanently.
Like in the original SBMD, The Return has Eric Roberts at his finest, playing Beck with the same vigor that made the first film so enjoyable a watch. As was also done in the previous installment, Roberts' portrayal of Dr. Beck is equal parts melodramatic lunacy and depth of character. Here, Roberts' psychological issues are delved into more deeply, with his conversations with his "therapist" (it makes sense in context) hinting at the possibility of Beck being legitimately incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy (which could easily spill over into his romantic life). As usual, though, this is mixed with the qualities Beck already displayed in the first movie, giving him a deeper character than just being a delusional pervert.
The supporting cast surrounding Roberts once again also brings their A-game, particularly Claire Blackwelder as Beck's latest object of twisted desire. As played by Blackwelder, Amy is far more a proactive character than Sophie. While the former didn't begin to assertively combat Beck's obsession until the film's final act, Amy is much quicker to take action against Beck's discomforting demeanor. When her mother (much in the same way as Sophie's parents) disbelieves her claims about Beck, Amy adamantly refutes Linda's disbelief and fights to prove the truth, doing so much sooner and with more ferocity than Sophie. Blackwelder also brings an authentic air to her relationship with Garth, with both Blackwelder and Mark Grossman (the latter of whom is a familiar face to Lifetime) playing their roles in a realistic light that is refreshing for teenage relationships in film.
The plot also moves at the same rate as Stalked by My Doctor, though some fans might be underwhelmed by the fact that Beck's crazed tantrums are noticeably spaced more far apart than the original movie. Despite that, however, The Return never feels like it's going on too long. The action, while less consistent, keeps the viewer's attention and will have them more than invested by the film's climatic finale (which, without spoiling it, is a rather enjoyable fourth wall break for many a Lifetime fanatic). Ultimately, The Return is a worthy follow-up to a great Lifetime film that has all the same charm that made its' predecessor stand out amongst Lifetime's countless films. Here's hoping the third movie (which I will certainly be watching and reviewing as soon as possible) is able to capture that same charm.
Score: 9 out of 10 faked blood tests.