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The Little Stranger Movie Review

Jake Ditto, Editor-in-Chief

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The Little Stranger was one of my most anticipated films to come out this year. It was directed by Lenny Abrahamson who directed Room, one of my favorite films of 2015.

The Little Stranger is a gothic horror film about a doctor who goes to a mansion, that he had gone to as a child, to help out the people living there.

Abrahamson takes an approach to directing this film in making a slow burn and building the tension throughout. This is my favorite approach to horror because instead of using cheap jump scares, the director builds up suspense throughout with disturbing imagery and complex themes to create something truly scaring, something more than a bump in the night. Some of the best examples of this are with The Babadook and Hereditary. That being said those films have something that this film doesn’t, an atmosphere. When directing a horror movie in this way, the thing that draws you in from the beginning is the atmosphere the director creates though the score, cinematography and editing. The atmosphere is more than the tone, it is something that keeps you on edge and gets under your skin. While I appreciate Abrahamson’s approach, he misses the most important aspect of a film like this, the atmosphere.

Like I said before, Abrahamson takes his time for the scares, the problem is that you will wait until the final 20 minutes before anything suspenseful happens. Abrahamson is relying on the screenplay to keep your attention. Since there is practically no suspense or atmosphere to the film, it almost feels like Abrahamson is trying to make a period piece drama. If that was what he was going for then the film fails even more as a drama than it does a horror film. There is a lack of interesting characters or story, and because of this most viewers will find this film extremely boring.

There are also times where there were scenes that could have been completely cut of the film. The best example of this is the dance scene. This scene felt almost completely useless and was only there to set up an event to happen later that night. The scene dragged on and took away the little momentum the film had at the moment.

The film also felt very choppy at points, especially in the first 10 minutes. It felt like they needed to make film shorter and decided to cut of the actors lines extremely early, which made the dialogue feel unnatural. It was one of the worst edited scenes I have seen all year.

While there are a lot of things I didn’t like about this film, there are some great aspects to it as well. The cinematography was beautiful and there were some amazing shots used throughout the film. I also felt like the makeup that was used on Will Poulter’s character was great and very disturbing. The set and costume design of the film also looked amazing. It was clear that Abrahamson cared about what he was making, but did not do enough in post production.

I walked in expecting a lot from this oscar nominated director, but left feeling extremely disappointed. I appreciate what Abrahamson was trying to do, but it felt like he did not know if he wanted to make a gothic horror film or a period piece drama.

 

Grade: C

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