Written and Directed by KarenLam
Reviewed by Char Hardin
Release Date August 2011
Isabelle scarred from the death of her mother at an impressionable age grows up with a little problem…her inability to have a normal relationship, where love is concerned she does not do well with change, she becomes set on the man from her small town to the point she can’t imagine her without him. She is crushed when her best friend, sees her James with another woman. When she is confronted with James infidelity and his wanting some freedom, Isabelle doesn’t handle it well.
Three years down the road, in a new city, with her own business a bookstore called the White Cat, Isabella tries to lead a strict loveless existence, which works until Rolph comes into along. And the fear of what happened with James has her pushing Rolph away, after a date to the movies turns sour. And from this point on it gets blurry with the flashbacks, at times, I wasn’t sure, if I was seeing the past meshing with her present. And toward the end, the picture becomes clearer of what young Isabella found, when she went home and what led to her having a keepsake from her previous flame James and oh, the cat-sicle in her freezer was nice touch of a fractured mind, not thinking clearly and not wanting to dispose of a dead pet.
True friendship is pushed to the limits for Jen and Isabella and the father of Jen’s unborn baby has come to terms that Isabella will always come first in Jen’s life even before him and her child. When Jen forgets a doctor appointment and jumps up to pack and prepare to rush to Isabella’s side in yet another emergency created by the falling apart Isabella, he walks away. The final scene with Jen and Isabella is a sacrifice she never imagined making.
Obsession, paranoia and madness collide in this taut thriller that oozes suspense with many twists and turns that takes her viewer down a path that unravels into chaos and the deranged. Although at times, I was confused, however I was intrigued and spellbound enough by the disturbing events, to hang on until credits rolled and written and directed by Karen Lam flashed across the screen. Wicked! Isabella gives us girls a female American Psycho…only I think she was in Canada, thus giving them a Canadian Psycho, who loved her lovers to death and kept one close enough she kept her cats fed.
After having the pleasure of getting to know Karen Lam, pieces of her are woven into Isabella from her love of cooking to inclusion of cats in her movie. Her remembering my occupation as a books seller, added a special personal touch to her sending me this movie. My store is like a maze and Isabella’s shop is row after row of books and her reverence shows, when a morning following an unfortunate incident has her picking up the pages of a destroyed book and the sadness in her eyes would be the same for me in her position.
Karen Lam is not just a beautiful woman who makes horror/thrillers; she is a talented writer and directed who has a keen sense for the dramatic and traumatic. She is not afraid to get her hands bloodied and to drop the ladylike veneer to get her point across. I like her love for the macabre and twisted. I fell in love with her DOLL PARTS short film and cannot wait to see the full length feature. STAINED was a little more tricky, but the ending was satisfying, if not happily ever after, she gave Isabella another chance, but as in real life, second chances do not mean lessons was learned. 6.5/ 10