9   +   4   =  

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Directed by: Guillermo Amoedo

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

The vampire genre, like zombies, has become stale. In this post Twilight world the vampire seems to have lost its scare factor and instead become a parody of itself. Directed by Guillermo Amoedo, The Stranger is a ‘new’ take on the genre, and with producing credits going to Eli Roth, it had the promise to be something different.

Set against the backdrop of a bleak, small town and focusing on a small cast of characters, it’s a film that builds an eerie atmosphere quickly and effectively.

The story follows Martin (Cristobel Tapia Montt), a broody, bearded, troubled man who has come back home looking for his wife, Ana. Pretty much as soon as he sets foot in the town a gang of violent hooligans attack him and leave him for dead. A young man, who he had questioned about his wife hours before, comes to his rescue. A police officer named Lieutenant De Luca turns out to be the father of one of the gang members, and it is quickly evident that he’s used to covering up his son’s crimes. Martin heals remarkably quickly and when the townsfolk learn what his blood can do, things become even worse for him and more violent for everyone involved.the-strangerThe Stranger reminds me of more subtle horrors from the 70s; it’s not fast paced or action packed but it tells a well-trodden origin story, successfully mixing a few scares with a more thriller approach to the story telling. It’s a film that seems sensibly aware of its budget. Tight close ups are used throughout and they’re very sparing with CGI. Films of this ilk usually fall down because of over use of CGI that quickly dates and makes it hokey, but here scenes are cut before they become in danger of that.

The cast is small and this helps create a strong focus throughout, building the character arcs quickly. It’s also, as expected with Eli Roth’s name attached to it, pretty gory and the violence is believable as well as brutal. Although this will please horror fans, it does make the film slightly confused; constantly flitting between a gore fest and a ‘sophisticated’ story led tale. One thing that put me off while watching it was the awful voice acting of the cast. I think this is because they’ve been over dubbed and it causes disconnect in the dialogue that’s really distracting.

Its approach to the genre is an interesting one and the lack of mention of the word ‘vampire’ throughout shows the need to be taken seriously and separately from films that have come before it. Overall The Stranger is a mixed bag of a film but a worthwhile watch for horror buffs.

★★★

The Stranger is out on DVD on 16 November 2015. 

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