Far from what you expect from the majority of modern horror movies, The Stranger is a darkly different film with a brutally bleak outlook, sure to thrill, entertain, and shock all true fans of the genre.
Adding an interesting mystery element to proceedings, and told through both present actions and flashbacks, The [Eli Roth produced] Stranger begins with a teenager stumbling across an attempted murder in the park. He saves a man from being murdered and brings him to home heal, even after finding out the murderer is the son of a corrupt cop who will do anything to protect his son.
We then watch as the cop attempts to clean up his son’s mess and finish off the stranger (leading to a number of especially violent altercations), find out why the stranger is in the area, and uncover not only the mysteries of his past (involving murders, attempted immolation, and a missing woman), but exactly what is so special/dangerous about his blood – and what exposure could mean for the community.
Despite hints of excellence, Guillermo Amoedeo’s direction is fairly average, the cinematography is nothing special, and the entire picture has an inescapably low-budget feeling not helped by largely wooden acting and overused horror filters. It’s also far slower than many straight-to-DVD horror films, and lacks the gore/spectacle many genre fans have come to crave from these types of films.
Having said that, the score is effective, Cristobal Tapia Montt and Nicolás Durán both give strong performances (as the stranger and teen misfit respectively), and the plot, while appearing slow to some viewers, is actually what makes The Stranger well worth watching; it’s the mystery elements to the stranger’s blood, the uncertainty, and the way his introduction causes the small town to descend into darkness, which keeps the whole thing interesting and engaging; as you’ve got to see exactly how it plays out.
Far from essential, but a solid watch nonetheless; a film which not only hints at a bright genre career for Amoedo (in both the writing and directing fields), but dares to do something different in a largely stagnant genre and suggests there’s hope for horror fans yet; The Stranger is worth seeking out for any true horror fan, and a decent mystery/horror casual fans won’t regret picking out of a bargain bin or streaming on Netflix in a couple of months.
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