‘The Little Stranger’ leaves audiences estranged to good scares and storytelling

‘The Little Stranger’ leaves audiences estranged to good scares and storytelling

‘The Little Stranger’ leaves audiences estranged to good scares and storytelling
September 08
16:37 2018

I will admit something to all of you before I begin this review: “The Little Stranger” is going to be a hard movie for me to review.

And it’s not because it breaks the barriers of modern filmmaking or transcends all horror clichés or things of the sort, but because I am not sure exactly what it really was.

“The Little Stranger” tries to be a creepy, Gothic horror film at one point, then it tried to be a familial drama surrounding a very odd, secretive family. Then it tries to interject a romantic subplot into all of this that never had me interested or really made any sense to the overall picture.

In addition to the odd meshing of tones, the pace is deathly slow. The film seemed to moved at the speed of a snail after it had about a metric ton of salt poured all over it. I kept on waiting for the moment where it would all boil over or connect in a way that finally made sense after everything, but it never seemed to come. When the credits began to roll, I was left with a confused look on my face and caught myself mouthing, “That’s it?” It needed another hour or so to fully explain everything — or at least wrap up the plot in a satisfying way — but the thought of spending another whole hour with it seemed too taxing of a task to bear, especially since it already felt like I was sitting in the theater for three hours.

Let’s also not forgive how horribly mismarketed this thing was, too. The trailer promised an old fashioned ghost story set against the backdrop of a Victorian-esque setting, and only one of those things turned out to be true. Audience members going into this film hoping to see a scary ghost story are sure to leave the theater very confused and very angry. If you still choose to check it out anyway despite my adherence, just be aware of what exactly you are going to be getting yourself into because this film is not at all what it is portrayed to be.

Thankfully, there are some positives to the film, however. Fresh off his Oscar nomination for 2015’s “Room,” Lenny Abrahamson directs with some effective skill, even if he never quite reaches the heights he did with his last feature. Stars Domhnall Gleeson of “Star Wars” and Ruth Wilson of “The Affair” deliver some very quality performances even though they are not given very much to work with. They had some good chemistry together, and they played off each other quite well thanks to this.

While the film may be overall lacking in substance and good storytelling, it undoubtedly looks absolutely gorgeous. The cinematography works quite well with the Gothic setting and creepy atmosphere, especially when it illuminates the crumbling mansion and dreary landscapes. Speaking of the crumbling mansion we spend all 105 minutes in, the production design on said mansion is absolutely stunning. This film may have no other Academy Awards prospects, but the “Best Production Design” category has a serious contender now.

“The Little Stranger” seemed to have all of the promise in the world lined up right in front of it to deliver a thoroughly creepy ghost story, and despite a very few slightly creepy scenes, some shocking violence and eerie atmosphere, it never amounts to very much outside of the stellar production design, good performances and solid direction. The only really scary thing in the whole movie is the pacing. Following the fantastic “Room,” I had very high hopes for Abrahamson’s new film, and I ultimately left very disappointed with it.

My Rating: 2.25/5

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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