Digital Review: The Stranger (2014)

the stranger dvd cover2Distributor: IFC Midnight

MPAA Classification: Not Rated

Director: Guillermo Amoedo

Starring: Cristobal Tapia Montt, Nicolás Durán, Lorenza Izzo, Luis Gnecco, Ariel Levy

In 1897 Bram Stoker finished his gothic masterpiece Dracula and so started a genre of horror fiction lasting right up to today. This has spawned countless movies and TV shows adding their own flair and interpretation of this mythical monster. We have the action of Blade, the forgetful sparkling in, well you know where, the gothics of Hammer and Argento, monsters of del Toro and King; it covers the full spectrum of monstrous to sexy. Some say it’s overplayed in any media format but for me it’s always a viable topic in any form. Enter The Stranger, yet another interpretation of these ageless beings on the small screen. Where in the endless spectrum of good and bad, monster and sexy, does this fall and, more importantly, where does the plot and delivery land?

The plot is pretty basic; a stranger comes to town looking for his wife to extinguish her and finds her dead. Taken in by a boy who saves him, this stranger eventually saves the boy and ultimately learns it is his son. The remainder of the movie centers around the the stranger’s desire to kill the last of his kind and the moral dilemma of his son being a vampire as well. There are some thoughtful ways in which any’powers’ are displayed in this movie but one of the strongest points is that this film attempts to humanize a vampire. Not in an “I need a girlfriend” kind of way but in a genuine “I am a good person and I really can’t live by killing people and drinking their blood” kind of way. This ethical nature of the stranger is handled very well and keeps moving through the story, right up until the ending, demonstrating a real human and thoughtful decision.

Nicolás Durán as Peter, the son, and Lorenza Izzo as the mother turn in a well-acted relationship of mother and troubled kid who somehow wants to do the right thing but just can’t seem to find the path. Saving Martin (a.k.a. the stranger), played by Cristobal Tapia Montt, seems to be just the path he needs. As the story moves along we see Peter may have found his path in keeping Martin and mom Anna safe. Cristobal plays the once single-minded vampire, now faced with a new situation of having a son, quite well. The assembled cast delivers believable and very good acting performances.

There are some plot problems but overall it’s a well-written story that delivers consistently throughout the course of the film. The screenplay and dialogue flow through the length of the story. Guillermo Amoedo wrote and directed this little gem. Eli Roth also had a hand in this as a producer. Amoedo seems to have hooked in well with Roth as he has written on Knock, Knock and The Green Inferno. This is Amoedo’s first run at a full-length film behind the camera and what a run it was. This surely places him on stronger footing with some of his horror contemporaries. I rather look forward to his next full-length effort.

The Stranger may not occupy spaces next to Fright Night or 30 Days of Night but don’t sell this one short. It’s got characters that I cared about, the plot is delivered well and the acting is very good. It is a modern breath of fresh air into a sometimes stale and derivative genre of horror movies. Give it a chance, there are no guarantees you will like it but for me it clicked and clicked hard. Hopefully Ameodo’s next movie won’t be a zombie one or a sequel but even so, I will still hit the play button. I hope I haven’t given too much away in terms of plot, I simply hit play with no idea what was coming and it was a great experience. Give it a go, this is certainly worth a watch.

The Stranger

US Release Date: 12th June 2015

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