Show Puts A Genre in Jeopardy


The Stalking of Laurie Show
-a USA Network original picture based on the true-life murder of a Lancaster, Pa., high-school girl-is cut from the traditional "women in jeopardy" TV-movie mold. And it doesn't do much to rise above what's standard for the genre.

The film, which is co-executive produced by daytime TV shock-talk meister Sally Jessy Raphael, tells the tale of Laurie Show (Jennifer Finnigan), who moves with her mother to Lancaster after her parents are divorced. She has a hard time making friends at school at first, but becomes fast friends with Samantha (Jessica Greco), the high-school yearbook editor and videographer.

It's with Samantha that Laurie makes a fateful trip to videotape the junior prom, and meets Lancaster High's prom king and queen-the highly dysfunctional Michelle Lambert (Marnette Patterson) and Butch Yunkin (Mel Hunt). After the two are crowned, Butch goes to Laurie and tells her she's the lucky girl who gets to dance the one dance Michelle will allow him to have with someone else. Michelle seems to enjoy the flirting, and slowly works Laurie into her circle of friends. But that all changes quickly, and inexplicably.

Michelle changes her tune on a dime, and begins to accuse Butch of sleeping with Laurie in a series of jealous tirades. Eventually, Butch calls Laurie and claims that Michelle is driving him to kill himself, and she invites him over for counseling. Despite the reservations of her mother, Hazel (Mary-Margaret Humes of
Dawson's Creek
), they become friends.

Laurie tries to distance herself from Butch, but winds up spending time with him at a party at Samantha's house. While alone together in a barn, Butch tries to rape her. Michelle walks in and accuses Laurie of trying to steal her boyfriend. Michelle then turns the entire high school-including Samantha-against the newcomer, making prank phone calls, challenging her physically and even assaulting her in a movie theater parking lot.

It's eventually decided that Laurie will move away and live with her father. Unfortunately, Michelle and high-school wallflower Tabitha (Joanne Vannicola) are able to kill her while she waits for her cab to the airport.

The Laurie Show story was a major one in greater Philadelphia, and much of the media coverage centered on the strange relationship between Michelle and Tabitha. No one explains why she would kill for Michelle or the svengali-like power Michelle seems to hold over her fellow high-schoolers.

Michelle's charisma might be more believable if not for Patterson's over-the-top portrayal, which looks out of place next to the solid acting jobs of Humes, Finnegan and Greco. Patterson is near hysterics for most of the film, and transparently sickly sweet at the points where she intends to be sincere in rallying the cops and others against Laurie.

The Stalking of Laurie Show

is a serviceable woman-in-jeopardy film, but one that breaks no new ground for the category. It bows Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. on USA.