'The Stranger' Review: A Visually Striking Mess
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[Review] Eli Roth’s ‘The Stranger’: A Visually Striking Mess

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While I haven’t seen Green Inferno or Knock Knock yet, I was wicked underwhelmed with Aftermath, Eli Roth’s first collaboration with Chilean filmmakers Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolas Lopez. Compared to Roth’s earlier work, Aftershock (in which he served as producer, co-writer, and actor) was very below par. With their latest collab, The Stranger, Amoedo (who co-wrote Green Inferno) makes his directorial debut and the result is a visually striking mess.

I typically enjoy character-driven slow burns, but Amoedo’s film doesn’t offer any compelling relationships or conflicts for the viewer to latch on to. The titular stranger is completely uninteresting throughout as he stiffly interacts with the other players in the rickety narrative. Amoedo never builds up our identification with the characters – making all of their melodrama ineffective and unintentionally silly at times.

Cristobal Tapia Montt stars as the titular stranger, Martin, who shows up one day at the house of nurse Monica (Alessandra Guerzoni) and her petulant graffiti artist son Peter (Nicolas Duran). The perpetually sullen Martin is searching for his lost love who once resided at Monica’s house. Shortly after, Martin is beaten and left for dead by the malicious son of a corrupt cop. Peter saves Martin from bleeding out in a ditch and from there The Stranger unfurls in a loosely coiled horror drama that’s sort of like a vampire movie and a lot like a forgettable film.

It begins to slag even before it can begin to inject any kind of interesting supernatural aspects. It fails to grab us before it’s too late and the drab story is made even more weak by it’s loose pace, which rises and falls without managing to build up any suspense. There is some darkly rich cinematography from Chechu Graf and the film certainly is technically competent. Nicolas Duran delivers some decent acting that allows The Stranger to keep its feet on the ground while the other players are busy delivering lines as if they don’t realize what point in the movie they’re at.

It’s no surprise that the film made very little waves when it played last year’s Fantastic Fest. It’s utterly forgettable and really makes one wonder what they’re putting in the coffee over at IFC Midnight, who will be releasing the film on June 12.


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