Film Review: The Stranger – 8/10

‘The whole operation hinges on you getting closer to him…’

You know when Sean Harris pops up that things are going to be grim. If you don’t know who the English actor is, take a second to Google him and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The second his face appears on screen it is safe to say that whatever the project he’s involved in is… it won’t be a barrel of laughs. But that’s fine. Sometimes it’s time to embrace the darkness. Well, true to form, The Stranger is jet black…

Based on the real-life murder of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe, writer-director Thomas M. Wright presents us with a cat-and-mouse game between Harris’ unhinged killer Henry Teague and undercover detective Mark Frame (Joel Edgerton).

While this film would never be described as a horror film in the traditional sense, there are moments of real horror here – not least when Harris screams “THERE ARE BLACK LAKES IN MY EYES” in what may or may not be a dream (nightmare?) sequence. It’s a chilling moment in a film that is full of them. Whilst the pacing is often slow, The Stranger is a hypnotic and mesmerising film in which the occasional lapses into pretension are offset by a stunning pair of performances from Harris and Edgerton. The former always manages to bring something new to his psychopaths – no matter how many of them he portrays – and Edgerton is equally explosive as a man at the limit of what he is able to accomplish.

The glacial pacing and long scenes shot in darkness will be too much for some, but if you’re in the mood to wallow in the shadows, to be absorbed by the banality of evil, this is the film for you.