The Dark Stranger (2016)★★★★☆


Can you believe there are only two weeks left in the year? Maybe it’s just me, but 2016 as a whole somehow seemed to rush by all at once while each moment within 2016 seemed to drag on and on and on. Like many of the movies I’ve reviewed this year, in fact.

But not this one. Actually, this one could have used some dragging, especially towards the end. There’s such an interesting story here but the telling is oddly paced. There’s a nice slow buildup of tension and intrigue that deflates all at once in a weirdly rushed exposition. Like you’ve spent the rest of the movie chasing this mystery only to have what feels like the oral version of an annotated printed copy thrown at you in the end.

And that’s mostly okay. A good mystery is a good mystery whether it unfolds naturally or is foisted upon you in a rush, and this is a good mystery. It helps that the characters are compelling and the cast embodies them wonderfully. I watched this movie specifically because of Stephen McHattie (the titular stranger), a decision that did not let me down tonight. McHattie has range, y’all.

And Enrico Colantoni always puts a smile on my face. Most of all, I was impressed with Katie Findlay’s performance as Leah. I hadn’t seen her in anything before this (though she reminds me a lot of Madeline Zima) so I didn’t know what to expect, but she definitely delivered. Which makes this movie a worthwhile watch overall, despite the pacing issues.