Blu-ray Review: The Stranger (Scream Factory / IFC Midnight)


The Stranger is the latest product of Chilewood, a project started by Eli Roth and Nicolas Lopez with the release of Aftershock, as produced and “presented” by Eli Roth, and directed by Lopez. The project’s goal is to make Hollywood movies in Chile, and with the release of Roth’s long-anticipated The Green Inferno a couple of weeks ago, and the coming release of Roth’s Knock Knock, starring Keanu Reeves, I’d say they were successful in doing so. Lots of people were wondering what Roth was doing in his absence. The guy hadn’t made a film since Hostel: Part II. I told people, back when I started seeing news about Aftershock, that Roth had been assembling a crew of filmmakers, and that we could expect a lot more output from him in the coming years. It appears as if I were right, because Roth, Lopez and writing partner Guillermo Amoedo have been pumping them out for the past couple of years, and there is only more to come. The Stranger is directed by Amoedo, and again, produced/presented by Eli Roth. For me, it may be the weakest of the films released by the production team, but that definitely doesn’t mean that it is without merit.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that The Stranger, at the end of the day, is a vampire film. It’s kind of subtle about it, but if you’ve ever seen a vampire movie, you will have figured this out during the opening scene. It’s a different kind of vampire movie, however. This isn’t bloodsuckers being hunted down and stabbed in the heart by some dashing vampire hunter. This is a grungy tale of a self-loathing vampire, as he travels around as a hobo, in search of his long-lost partner, as explained in the opening scene. If you just recently saw The Green Inferno, you’re going to notice some familiar faces. Actually, go back and watch Aftershock, a good amount of the same actors return in each film from this production team. It’s a collection of Chilean writers, directors, producers, actors, and Eli Roth, and they aim to put genre films in front of your face.

I enjoyed The Stranger for what it is. It’s not a perfect movie, and if one were feeling petty, one could sit and pick through it with a fine tooth comb, and create a whole list of problems, but I don’t think any of them are deal-breakers. The actor who plays the Deputy Sheriff… I honestly could not tell if his character was dubbed over with another actor’s voice. If so, it synced really well. The voice that comes out of his mouth, sounds nothing like you would think it would just looking at the actor. I’m not saying it’s impossible that it is his real voice, I’m just saying that it sounds dubbed. It’s definitely over-the-top, but in an entertaining, B-movie kind of way. Some of the acting is less than wonderful. It’s a Chilean film, with Chilean actors, but I don’t think it’s a language barrier kind of thing. Some of the line delivery just falls flat. And that’s okay. You don’t watch a movie like this for the Oscar-worthy performances, you watch it out morbid curiosity. You watch it because it has Eli Roth’s name attached to it, and you’re either a fan of what he contributes to the horror genre, or you’re a hating-hipster who just has to see each movie he’s involved with, so that you butt in to every conversation on the internet among people who do Enjoy Roth’s work, so that you can make it known that you are just not a fan. Either way, there’s plenty to like in The Stranger, even if there are some not so great things as well.

I saw The Stranger back when it premiered on VOD, so I was disappointed, when I sat down to revisit it VIA Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the film, that there was no commentary to really justify a second viewing of the film. Actually, the extras on the disc are quite scarce. There is a featurette called Welcome To Chilewood, about the group of filmmakers behind this and other movies. There is a “short film” called The Fourth Horseman, which is what I assume spawned this feature-length movie. It is basically the opening scene of The Stranger, with a slight twist at the end. Other than that, there is the Chilean and U.S. theatrical trailers, and that’s it. The picture quality is perfectly fine, no issues to report, the same goes for the audioi quality. It’s a new release film, which features a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track, and a full-HD 1080p transfer in 2.40: 1, so you know it’s going to look at sound good, unless there was some kind of major error, which there was not. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of IFC Midnight’s The Stranger, directed by Guillermo Amoedo, and produced and presented by Eli Roth is now available. You may purchase your copy by clicking this link.

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