Saturday, June 19, 2021

I'm the Girl He Wants to Kill (1974) (TV)

... aka: Thriller: I'm the Girl He Wants to Kill

Directed by:
Shaun O'Riordan

American Ann Rodgers (Julie Sommars - FIVE DESPERATE WOMEN) fell in love with an Englishman and relocated to the UK. Though the marriage ended in divorce, she decided to stay in the country and has been working for an overseas director of the trade company Parker Industries ever since. The job requires long hours, lots of overtime and lots of late nights stuck at the office. After one of these late nights, she returns to her apartment building, passes a middle-aged, balding man (Robert Lang) exiting the building who doesn't utter a single word but gives her an intimidating stare and then finds the dead body of her next door neighbor lying in the hallway. The neighbor was just the latest victim of a serial killer who's been stabbing random women to death in recent months. While she's at the police station trying to match photos of the man she saw with photos of ex-cons on record, she meets head detective Mark Tanner (Tony Selby). The two hit it off and start dating.

Months later, while out on her lunch break, Ann stops to take a look inside a jewelry store and sees a familiar face working there: The same man she saw leaving her apartment the night of the murder! He chases her through town but she safely makes it back to her office building. There, she calls Mark to let him know that she saw him and he may have followed her back there. Coincidentally, at the same time she was being chased, a man fitting the killer's exact description right down to the black-and-white tennis shoes is arrested not far from her office. Mark schedules Ann to come in the following day to identify the man... only the police have captured the wrong guy and the real killer is hiding out inside Ann's building just waiting to strike.

As things at the hectic office building wind down for the evening, asshole company president Mr. Burton (Anthony Steel) slams Ann with folders full of paperwork that need to be done pronto. That means another late night at the office all by herself. Everyone leaves aside from security guard Sam (Ken Jones), who unluckily fills in for a colleague at the last minute and promptly gets to stabbed to death while doing the rounds. The killer then takes the keys, activates the security system, which locks all of the doors and windows in the building (making it impossible to escape) and thus begins a game of cat-and-mouse through the building between killer and prey.

This is a fine example of a small, videotaped TV production with a tiny budget that's able to efficiently work within its own means using simple, effective techniques to maintain suspense. Most of the action takes place in the lobby, a couple of office rooms, the stairwell and the elevators, but the director, writer (Brian Clemens), cameraman (who isn't even credited) and actors all manage to make it work. Clever, subtle touches, like panning from our heroine down to a plant in a hallway to show that someone else has just brushed against it, are used throughout to heighten the tension and this even provides a few good jump scares along the way. It's one of the better episodes of the series I've seen thus far.

Nearly this same exact idea of a woman trapped in a high-security high rise office building with a psycho was later used for a cable TV movie called Trapped (1989) directed by Fred Walton and starring Kathleen Quinlan, which is also pretty good, as well as Kristine Peterson's direct-to-video Lower Level (1991) and other films.

Of all the directors who worked on the six season Thriller series, O'Riordan directed by the most episodes with seven. Others of his include The Eyes Have It (1973), In the Steps of a Dead Man (1974), SCREAMER (1974), Sign It Death (1974), If It's a Man, Hang Up! (1975) and Nurse Will Make It Better aka The Devil's Web (1975). I'm the Girl... was one of the episodes to receive an independent VHS release here in the U. S. on the ThrillerVideo label. That version contains a new 5-minute-long opening credit sequence (filmed specifically for later syndication airings on U.S. TV) of the killer murdering a woman in the bathtub. Now all of these episodes (in their original, shorter forms) are available on DVD box sets distributed by a number of different companies: A&E, Network and Visual Entertainment.

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