The Stranger review (DVD)

The Stranger follows a man who arrives in an American town searching for his wife. He’s not just a normal man, however, and has an obsession with people staying away from the apparent contagions in his blood. As the secret surrounding his true identity begin to surface, the man finds himself in a fight for survival.

The Stranger is an extremely average thriller that is easy on the thrills and hard on the tedium. It bumbles around trying to find its footing in a feature that is equally a horror/thriller as well as a touching drama, but mostly fails on both levels. In terms of horror, there’s nothing remotely scary or haunting within The Stranger and the vampirism element is the only excuse for labelling this film as a horror. It neither manages to drum up any amount of tension or suspense as it meanders through its 93-minute runtime.

The almost constant stream of heart-rending music attempts to heighten the emotion and drama, but it feels clichéd, forced and as subtle as a brick. The music is coupled with even more clichéd characterisation; we have a young boy who’s struggling with drug addiction, a badass bully who just wants to cause trouble and a corrupted policeman. Everyone gets what they deserve as they either meet their worthy demise or come out the end as a hero. The film’s lack of inspiration begins with its lazy title and ends with its predictable finale. There’s not one surprise within this film and it’s disappointing, because at the core of this there is a tiny bit of potential. The word "vampire" is never spoken, so there is plenty of room for the film to create its own monstrous myth, but there’s no explanation or attempt to really delve in to the "illness" that Martin (the stranger of the title, played by Montt) has. The Stranger needs a massive shake-up to give it the courage to do something ground-breaking, rather than just teetering on the edge of something great.

The tone of the film is offensively melancholy and its atmosphere is relentlessly gloomy. From the dark and dismal cinematography, to the sullen performances from the entire cast, The Stranger is a paint-by-numbers in creating a terribly depressing feature film. If it eased of its determination to be as emotional as possible, and opted to have a little more fun with its concept, then it would have been a far more enjoyable viewing experience. Instead, we are left with something that is dire, dour and entirely forgettable.
The cast give so-so performances and the problem is certainly not with their acting. The issue is with the script that they are given to work with. From the absurd repetition of the characters calling each other “mother fuckers!” to the generally lacklustre dialogue that includes “Die!”, “What are you doing here, again?” and “You lied to me!” it’s truly painful in parts.

The only word to truly some up The Stranger is lazy. It tries to create a blend of The Guest and Let The Right One In, but stumbles at the huge hurdle that is that challenge. Sadly, the Stranger is not a film you’ll want to meet and, instead, you should just leave your door firmly closed on its mediocrity. 


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