THE STRANGER Season 1: Make This Your Next Must See

With each technological advancement and alteration to the functionality of society, new opportunities are lent to the horror genre to shock and terrify. With the worldwide adoption of ridesharing, the prospect of a stranger both being driven or driving you has never been more terrifying.

In the last year alone, two films have come my way surrounding the terrifying horrors of ridesharing, each giving their own perspective on the matter. Where Marisol brought the terror of immigration and discovery, The Toll threw viewers into an infinite loop of confusion and fear. The Stranger takes viewers so much further.

The Stranger, from writer and director Veena Sud (best known for her limited series Seven Seconds), is instantly captivating and terrifying. Innocence quickly snatched and your attention demanded. Honestly, you will not want to stop watching until the final episode – and with Quibi’s promise of 10 minutes or less for each installment, this will be an easy watch that you will not forget.

From the very first episode, The Stranger is an intensity building series, packed with cleverly crafted twists, a solid script and exciting cliffhangers. Coupled with a brilliantly inspired LA set design and powerhouse performances, do not let this one slip away.

Where to?

The introduction of Quibi has become a cinema lovers’ dream. Personally a fan of the short film medium, I was excited for the streaming service’s release, the content living up beyond the promise. Quibi elevates the short film, however, bringing a TV episodic structure to each series, with a new episode introduced every day and a new cliffhanger to leave you aching for more – all in under 10 minutes.

THE STRANGER: Make This Your Next Must See
source: Quibi

Quibi is the perfect platform for The Stranger, a storytelling idea that may have fallen to the masses of horror inductions but finds itself elevated here. While it ends up being the length of an average horror film when all is said and done, The Stranger finds its success in the haste of each episode, the tension it builds rapidly from start to finish is incredible, and one wild ride.

Clare, a newcomer to LA and a local Orbit driver, arrives at a breathtakingly large mansion to pick up her next passenger. While he seems a bit off at first, his awkwardness appears harmless, giving Clare the environment to open up about herself. The flirtatious conversation between them is light and breezy until Carl E. flips the switch, his almost vivacious spirit instantly snapping into murderous intentions.

While Clare’s quick thinking gives her a moment’s reprieve, Carl E. is not an individual that can easily be evaded – especially when there are questions on whether he was ever real, to begin with. While Clare initially finds safety in the response of the local LA PD, the evidence begins to pile up implicating not only possible insanity but possible murderous intent.

Devilishly Delectable

The Stranger delivers on all fronts. It is brilliantly filmed, each episode creating its own limiting and constricted set, from bathrooms to the car, to the Metro Link, to Clare’s apartment. The framing is tight as well, utilizing not only our screens but the screens around our characters. iPhones give a new context to constraining the characters, placing them in an ever-shrinking box until their breath is taken away.

THE STRANGER: Make This Your Next Must See
source: Quibi

Building off the tension of the set is a well crafted and solid script. Not only does it know how to make fun of itself and horror films before it, but it also knows how to cleverly craft intrigue. Little tidbits are given to viewers throughout the film, little pieces of the puzzle. Character’s backstories slowly dribble out, sometimes with only a word, others with deeper reflection. While there are times I wanted to know more, some of the tidbits left as sole explanations, it only validates the series more as I want more time with it – that I can not get enough.

The Stranger succeeds in its casting as well. Those familiar with the horror genre will instantly recognize the film’s final girl, Maika Monroe bringing to Clare a bit of her performance from The Following, yet with an underlying strength and resilience. I am quickly becoming a fan of her work and The Stranger gives viewers another solid performance.

The true standout of The Stranger is Dane DeHaan. When we are first introduced to Carl E. I spent more time trying to figure out where I had seen DeHann before, that is until the other side of Carl emerged. Instantly, I was enamored, his performance initially giving strong vibes of Cillian Murphy’s performance from Red Eye, as his devilish deeds and intentions oozed from his lips. Though as much as there are influences behind his performance, DeHann truly makes this his own. Even when he is absent on-screen, his performance is an invisible force not only looming over Clare but in the minds of viewers.

Conclusion: The Stranger

I can not recommend The Stranger enough. If you are a fan of horror, thrillers, and short films – this one delivers. Gripping and irresistible, The Stranger will have you holding your breath and on the edge of your seat until the final moments.


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