Film Review: “The Little Stranger” (2018) ★★


A slow-paced horror movie is always interesting to watch, especially through a psychological context. But if the same movie was written poorly, not exciting, and dragged throughout, then there’s a big problem. I am still trying to understand the point of making “The Little Stranger”, and it’s not because I did not get its game. I guess I did, but If I am not too crazy about it, perhaps I did not, one might say. But whatever it is, even if my review is not pleasant, that should not stop anyone from watching the film because, at the end of the day, we are not supposed to like or love every single thing we watch, isn’t it?

Based on Sarah Water’s “The Little Stranger”, the movie with the same title is set during the summer of 1947 when Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is called to the big manor at Hundreds Hall where his mother used to work as a housemaid. He comes to treat Betty, the house maid who had a strange stomach ache. However, that strangeness will be nothing in comparison with all the queer events that starts occurring right after that. With the manor whose beauty has declined with the tolerance of time, soon its inhabitants will follow an insane and unpredictable chain of mysterious sounds that will occupy their minds heavily and persistently.

You see, as the story unfolds, through flashbacks we learn how Faraday appears in the family portrait of the Ayres family. As a child, he would always admire the manor somewhere deep in his mind and wanted to own or live in it at least. That was the first time when he met Caroline Ayres, as a little girl, but falls for her once again when he meets her as a grown up and beautiful woman (Ruth Wilson).

Angela Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) is a very content woman who, judging based on her appearance, is quite enjoying her position in the society. But once she becomes the victim of an angry manor, she won’t behave any differently from another human being from a mental facility, who was not fortunate enough to have the same privilege. However, while the film of Lenny Abrahamson does not really touch the aspect of the society, it still touches upon love, poverty, ghosts, neglect and a big mansion that dictates its own rules whenever it desires.

My main issue with “The Little Stranger” was not the storyline, the beautiful cinematography or even the performance of the actors, not at all. But rather editing, where the poor decision was made of including scenes that were better off not being part of the complete version. All these made the film look weak, less sharp and even unexciting. Sometimes it was so slow I felt a turtle would move much faster despite the fact that I enjoy watching slow-paced cinema. But with all what “The Little Stranger” had to offer, it had nothing to do with it being slow-paced and as a result a different term can be successfully used – dragging out.

Overall, there will be many viewers who might enjoy “The Little Stranger” and I would not blame any of them. After all, it has good lines, some kind of idea and even watchable scenes. I just wish it had more with a shorter running time, which would make much more sense. But if it works for you, please watch it by all means and disregard my negative review, as no one except you, my valuable reader, can truly tell whether I was right or wrong. In both cases I’ll be fine as long as you eventually manage to build a more productive combination with the little stranger more than I did.

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