Horror movies are difficult to balance story with scares, but nevertheless the monster madness reigns strong in all its forms. Tonight, one of those movies wants to try and break the mold of the milieu in hopes that it will remain a pleasant surprise in the flood of summer films. Robbie K here, ready to bring another review and help you with your viewing pleasures as we cover:
The Little Stranger (2018)
Thought Provoking: Little Strangers is a very smart, elegant horror movie that uses a lot of unseen techniques to try and terrify you. This psychological thriller drops lots of clues, leaving you scratching your head as they try to figure out what in the world is going on in this film. This smart approach will engage conversation and have you constantly reviewing every scene to piece everything together. Symbolism and artistic minds rejoice you have found your movie.
The Setting: An 18thcentury mansion with wide echoing halls, dark rooms that house secrets, and silent halls that creak for no reason. This is the setting of the scares of this movie, the realistic mansion bringing that creepy edge that is sure to give one the creeps. But outside of scares, Little Stranger brings the past back to the present, immersing you in the classic culture that was 20thcentury Europe. Throwing all of this together… one gets a chance to really immerse yourself in the adventure at hand.
The Acting; A very character centric film, Little Strangers depends heavily on the cast to bring the psychological thriller to the forefront. Domhnall Gleesonhas much of the dialogue, a creepy sensation that does not feel directly threatening, but is cold, obsessive, and perhaps calculating enough to make you think twice. Ruth Wilsonis also a bit of enigma, more dynamic than the other characters, Wilson brings the sanity vs. experience to a great balance, continuing to have you question the truth of what she is experiencing. As for the rest of the crew, they warrant a nod for their skills of bringing the culture to life, there was just more needed.
Short Run Time: It’s only about 1 hour and 40 minutes and based on the dislikes below you can understand why I’m happy for the shorter time frame.
The Dance Scene: It’s not the biggest, boldest, display of dance, but it at least breaks up the movie a bit to help potentially direct the film towards a new lead. Might not be much, but I give them props for the cute display of etiquette and dancing.
Vague: To thoroughly enjoy this movie, you have to be wanting a more symbolic vague ending than an actual conclusion. Little Strangers will fulfill those symbolic loving fans, as it tries to keep you guessing. I don’t mind thought provoking, but I’d like a little more closure than what I got, though I guess that is the topic discussion starter. Still, the open-ended nature of the film didn’t quite work for me as well as they had hoped.
Not Scary: A horror movie that isn’t thrilling or scary is hard for me to swallow. The Little Stranger feels more like a political play or psycho thriller than true horror. As such, those looking for the popular, movie magic infused scares are going to be strongly disappointed at the grounded approach they took.
More Character Involvement: All the time they invested into this film, with all the characters placed in the little board of psycho/horror, they would have dived more into the psyche of them as well. The movie strongly favored Faraday, dipping back to his past to hint at what is brewing in that quiet demeanor. For the other denizens though, the backstories of them are reduced to dry dialogue and vague stories that one must pay massive attention to or miss a big clue. Why the characters weren’t further elaborated, I don’t know, but perhaps their involvement could have gone to the next level.
Boring: The movie is slowly paced, and without the novelty scares and creepiness, the articulated dialogue and elegant presentation are not the most engaging. Outside of solving the mystery and vague symbolism, there was not enough to keep my attention or energy invested in the movie. As such, it was difficult to concentrate and truly embrace what the movie had to offer.
Unnecessary Scenes: The movie has a number of scenes that are bloated displays of dialogue and dryer banter that is only semi-pertinent. I’ll stomach these moments designed for time all day, but unnecessary details (primarily those that strike my pet peeves) are not things I enjoy seeing. One particular scene crosses into the heartless territory, with its inclusion reduced to only a few lines to explain why it all happened. With the vague approach and symbolism though, I was ready to walk out once this detailed moment occurred. Unnecessary and almost impractical moments like these, can stay buried in the minds of the authors and writers.
The Little Strangers feels much like a book into movie format, really focusing on the psyche and internal mind rather than the horror aspect. I’ll admit, it’s artistic, more unique and better acted than many horror movies, but it lacks that hook to keep me invested in the movie. It’s not scary, it’s not fun, and really has some editing and toning needed to give the answers and closure I wanted. So, don’t go in there expecting a regular horror and you may just enjoy it, but otherwise, I didn’t feel this movie had all the elements it needed to warrant a trip to theater.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 3.0