The Stranger (2015) – Film

“The Stranger”

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When a stranger arrives on Peter’s doorstep looking for his wife, Peter becomes involved in the stranger’s plight when he witnesses the stranger beaten and stabbed by a local group of thugs.  

Following their successful collaboration on The Green Inferno, Eli Roth Presents, Guillermo Ameodo’s highly creative spin on the vampire genre.  Featuring a solid supporting cast that Eli Roth fans will recognize from previous projects, and lead with strong performances by Cristobal Tapia Montt, as our antihero, Martin, and Nicholas Duran, as Peter, this film kept me engaged (except for a couple of hospital scenes – hard to suspend my disbelief when certain simple details are overlooked) and had me yelling at the screen.   I considered this a positive.  Characters are allowed to be stupid, cruel, gullible, etc.  Characters are allowed to make bad choices that have consequences, it moves the plot along.

I have mixed feelings about this film.  I enjoyed the story and the character development.  The main plot line of Martin trying to find out what happened to his wife is not only good, the chemistry among the cast involved is intense and believable.  However, though the secondary plot, about the deputy sheriff and his son, is good, it is not as strong.  I was unable to feel sympathy for these characters, likely because there is much less palpable chemistry.  The intense emotions that should be present between father and son who have suffered a huge loss isn’t there.  Whether it’s a failure of the script or the actors inability to convey the tragedy and hardships that leads them to the actions they chose, it’s hard to say.

The cinematography is beautiful, the score is subtle and spot on.  There are small details that were overlooked, particularly in the hospital scenes, as I mentioned earlier, that were annoying because they would have been so easy to address.  The other issue that kept this film from being better was, though this film was made in Chili, and many of the actors must have had accents, it was rather obvious that the film was voiced over.  It’s okay for people to have accents, really.

I thought about giving this a lower rating because it is so ambitious and it has its flaws.  But as I’ve written this, I realize that the movie was successful in the most important ways, it was creative, consistent, captivating, and evocative.  I gave this 3 1/2 glasses of wine.  I would have given it 4 had the subplot between the deputy sheriff and his son been stronger.

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