REASON: A literary agent vacationing at a remote lake house comes to believe she is being stalked by a disgruntled author who has written a book about stalking a literary agent at a remote lake house.
REVIEW: If you’re looking for a stalker thriller to watch, director Christina Rohn’s feature debut Best selling (see it HERE) is a decent one to check out – the main problem is that there’s just a bit too much of it. At 103 minutes, it could have benefited from being a bit shorter and more focused on getting under the viewer’s skin. Screenplay by Travis Goddard, Best selling is an adaptation of a novel by Christopher Knight, and left me with the impression that the film could have done well to leave out some elements of the book.
Best selling Melissa Anschutz stars as literary agent Anne Harper, and for long stretches of the running time, this is a one-woman show. Anschutz does a fantastic job of carrying the film on her shoulders and handling everything the story throws at her, which includes some intense emotional scenes and plenty of moments where she looks around at her surroundings with unease. Anne has had a lot to deal with lately: one of her clients was murdered, her young daughter has had medical issues (and may still have more issues to deal with). So she decides that some time away at a remote lake house will do her some good. Of course, time in a remote lake house never does anyone any good in horror movies or thrillers. Shortly after Anne arrives, she finds a manuscript outside her front door. Something left by a writer she has dealt with before. A writer who has now brought her a story about a literary agent who was stalked while alone at a lake house.
It doesn’t take long before it becomes clear that Anne is really being stalked by a sadistic maniac, and Best selling is at its best when it shows us these stalking sequences. Building tension. Makes us wait for when the situation is going to blow up into screams and violence. Makes Anne seem oblivious when she doesn’t realize there’s a corpse at the lake house with her the whole time. It might also lead you to suspect that Rohn, Goddard and Knight are withholding information because it’s all too straightforward. The manuscript was provided by a writer whom Anne knows, he has written about her being persecuted, her actual persecution plays out just like in the book. It couldn’t be that simple, could it? It’s all already given away 25 minutes into the movie? Fortunately, there are some twists and turns along the way.
One element of the film that seemed unnecessary to me was something to do with Anne’s daughter. I can imagine that Knight was able to delve into her medical issues and Anne’s feelings about the matter more deeply in the novel… but she didn’t need to be in the movie. All her illness really does is provide an excuse for why she doesn’t join Anne at the lake house, and in the end it’s just tossed aside. Anne is a single woman who has lost a friend and needs a break from work that really didn’t need to be more to her story than that. And without the daughter angle, the film could have been a tad shorter while giving even more attention to the stalking, the suspense, the suspense. These elements get a good amount of screen time as they are and build up to a fun climactic reveal, but there are places where the film could have been improved, and the scenes with the daughter ended up leaving me asking, “Why bother ?” Well, at least child actress Remi Ellen Dunkel got a job out of it.
While Anschutz is alone for most of the film, the supporting cast members who pop up here and there also make a positive impression. Kimberly Harsch (aka Kimber King) appears as the writer who is killed at the beginning, Dana Blackstone is Anne’s assistant, Terence Knox (best known to me from his role in Children of Kornet II) is a friendly doctor, DJ Perry is an awkward writer Anne deals with, Ralph Lister is the author of the script Anne finds at the lake house, Victor Pytko appears as a neighbor by the lake, Amy McFadden plays Anne’s best friend (who helps taking care of her daughter while at the lake) and Lana Wood – famous as Plenty O’Toole in the James Bond film Diamonds are forever – even has a few scenes!
Best selling is not a mind-blower. Its low budget is apparent, it has a subplot that leads nowhere, and it could have gone further with its scares. But it’s worth watching if you’re a fan of thrillers. If you’re already a fan of Melissa Anschutz, you’re going to really love it. If you’re not, you might be a fan when the end credits start rolling.
Best selling is now available to watch on VOD, below Amazon Prime.