The Stranger Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Koch Media
Written and Directed by Guillermo Amoedo
2014, 93 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on November 16th 2015
Cristobal Tapia Montt as Martin
Lorenza Izzo as Ana
Luis Gnecco as Lieutenant De Luca
Ariel Levy as Caleb
Miserable vampires, Eli Roth (presents) style. Whether it's glum Bill Compton, a reluctant Dracula untold, cold, sad Eli or... whatever it is Lady Gaga is doing on American Horror Story, vampires have always had a penchant for gloomy depression. Enter The Stranger, a bloodsucker so brow-beaten he makes Angel from Buffy (the buzzkill benchmark, surely) seem like a barrel of laughs by comparison.
Grubby sad Martin (you see what they did there) comes to town in search of his wife, missing since a little argument during which he tried to set fire to her and their unborn child. First thing Martin does upon arriving in town is get himself set upon by the local thugs and beaten to a bearded paste. Rescued by good-hearted graffiti brat Peter and nursed back to health (thanks, family kitty), Martin is awoken from his self-piteous grump when a local cop takes exception to his brutal vengeance dealing. What follows is a vicious cycle of vengeances being visited upon each other, with varying degrees of legitimacy.
It's a very Eli Roth spin on Let the Right One In, by way of Rambo: First Blood. Sure, Roth only 'presents', or produces, but how else to explain the presence of the man's wife, Lorenza Izzo? It features his wife and houses a level of gore and brutality not dissimilar to that seen in Roth's own films – specifically torture based - but writer/director Guillermo Amoedo does plenty to distinguish the story as his own. As part of the unofficial partnership between Amodeo, Roth and Nicolas Lopez, The Stranger is the best of the group's films, thankfully lacking the stupid fratboy humour of The Green Inferno, Knock Knock and Aftershock. It's less ambitious than those movies and not as slick as Roth's bigger budget features, but all the better for it, in a down-and-dirty back garden vampires sort of way.
Still, the torture/revenge theme does get a little tiresome after a while – a constantly revolving cycle of miserable men repeatedly tying each other up, killing various relatives and repeatedly escalating the vengeance process until no-one can quite remember who started it anymore. It's like the swimming pool sequence from Let the Right One In, over and over again.
It's not up to the quality of (fellow 'man comes to town' tale) The Guest or the second coming of Martin, then, but The Stranger is an enjoyably low-budget vampire tale that, once the slow-burn stops, packs a surprising heft to its punch.