A doctor is called to a crumbling manor and becomes entangled
in the family's own psychosis as well as the house's secrets.
The Little Stranger (2018)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Lucinda Coxon
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson,
Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling, Liv Hill
Based on the novel by Sarah Waters
The Little Stranger is a perfect example of misleading marketing, given that the trailer promised a thought-provoking supernatural horror film along the same lines as Hereditary. Instead, what we got was a bit of a dull affair, albeit a well-acted one. There's only a small attempt at horror and that comes in the third act. Until then, we watch Domhnall Gleeson's Dr. Faraday try to finagle his way into the Ayres family. Or at least, that's what I thought was happening. The film is awfully lacking in details, and by the end of it, the audience is left to make up their own minds about whether the story they just saw was supernatural or human psychosis, or if our hero was in fact the villain.
Dr. Faraday has always been enamored by Hundreds Hall, the lavish home of the Ayres family. When he is called there to examine Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter), a wounded veteran, he becomes a friend of the family and begins to court Roderick's sister Caroline. The courtship is awkward and painfully one-sided, as she never expresses romantic interest in him, and watching him flounder is most of the movie. There's a hint that the house may be haunted by the spirit of Mrs. Ayres's (Charlotte Rampling) youngest daughter, but that plot thread is dropped far too soon. This film is basically all the boring parts of every ghost movie put into one perpetually confusing mess.
Though the performances are great, the cinematography is beautiful, and the music is subtle but strong, The Little Stranger simply doesn't have the story or focus that it needs to stay afloat. It works far better as a period drama than it does a horror movie, yet it was billed as another Amityville. That's without mentioning the highly confusing ending that hints at a secret twist, but never explores the possibility. It's simply infuriating and makes for a forgettable movie.