The Little Stranger (film)

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The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger (film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLenny Abrahamson
Produced by
Written byLucinda Coxon
Based onThe Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters
Music byStephen Rennicks
CinematographyOle Bratt Birkeland
Edited byNathan Nugent
Distributed byPathé (France)
20th Century Fox (United Kingdom)
Release date
  • September 21, 2018 (2018-09-21) (United Kingdom & Ireland)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • France
Box office$1.8 million[2]

The Little Stranger is a 2018 gothic drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Lucinda Coxon, based on the novel of same name by Sarah Waters. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, and Charlotte Rampling. Set in 1948, the plot follows a doctor who visits an old house his mother used to work at, only to discover it may hold a dark secret. The film was released in the United States on 31 August 2018, by Focus Features, and received positive reviews from critics.


Dr. Faraday, a country physician of humble beginnings, is called to Hundreds Hall, an 18th-century estate, in 1947 to attend to the maid, Betty. As a boy, he and his mother (a former maid) had been admitted to the house during the 1919 Empire Day party. Enamored with the house, he broke off an ornamental acorn from a mirror frame, causing his mother to slap him for vandalism. The Hall now belongs to Roderick Ayres, a scarred Royal Air Force veteran. The elderly Mrs Ayres also lives there with her daughter, Caroline. Upon arriving Dr Faraday observes the house has decayed over the years and that the family is in severe financial straits.

During a house party where Dr Faraday is present, a couple brings their young child who is mauled by Caroline's previously gentle Labrador retriever. Dr. Faraday later meets with Roderick, who claims there is a supernatural force in the house that hates him. Dr Faraday takes this as evidence of Roderick being of unsound mind, and becomes alarmed when he learns Roderick is planning a land sale. Roderick accosts Dr Faraday about intruding into the Ayres' affairs. Roderick later sets fire to his room and is committed to an asylum. Dr Faraday resolves to stay and care for the Ayres. He becomes romantically involved with Caroline, despite her being of a higher social class.

Suspicions of supernatural activity re-emerge when Mrs Ayres finds childish writing on the walls that she presumes is new and believes is caused by the ghost of her deceased daughter, Susan, nicknamed 'Suki'. Dr Faraday is disturbed by the marks, but dismisses them as old and forgotten. Other sounds in the house alarm Caroline, Mrs Ayres and their maid. The servants' bells sound without anyone calling them. A 19th-century tube communication device linking the empty nursery to the kitchen begins to sound. When Mrs Ayres goes up to investigate she is locked in the nursery. Experiencing shadows and indiscernible banging and frantic to escape, Mrs Ayres pounds the windows open, cutting her arms. After the others free her, she comes to believe that Susan is around her at all times.

Not long afterwards, Mrs Ayers kills herself by slashing her wrists with the glass from a broken picture frame. Roderick attends the funeral, warning that Caroline should leave the house or she will be the next to die. The night of the funeral, Faraday and a reluctant Caroline set plans to marry in six weeks' time. Later, Faraday considers that the aggressive behavior displayed in the house, including his own stealing of the acorn, resembles the legend of the poltergeist. It's suggested that supernatural phenomena might be the product of unintended telekinesis, poltergeist-like activity spawned by a living person, not a dead one.

Caroline eventually breaks off her engagement to Dr Faraday, telling him she would not be happy married to him and intends to sell Hundreds Hall. Faraday reacts by claiming she is exhausted and not thinking clearly. One night Faraday has a call that keeps him out. When he finally comes home, he learns that Caroline had fallen off the second floor to her death. The maid reports at the inquest that she awoke to hear Caroline go upstairs to investigate a sound she heard in the darkened hall. She simply said "You!" then fell to her death. The coroner reaches a verdict of suicide after Dr Faraday testifies Caroline's mind was "clouded". Months later, Faraday eventually bought the house of the Ayres. As he leaves, a young Faraday on the top of the stairs where Caroline fell watches him as he backs away.


Other notable actors who appear in the film in minor roles include Sarah Crowden, Elizabeth Counsell, Clive Francis, Kate Phillips, Oliver Chris, Nicholas Burns, Charlie Anson, Josh Dylan, Lloyd Hutchinson, Lorne MacFadyen, Maggie McCarthy, Ann Firbank and Camilla Arfwedson, with child actors Oliver Zetterstrom and Tipper Seifert-Cleveland also appearing in the film as Young Dr Faraday and Susan "Sukie" Ayres respectively.


In September 2015 it was announced that Lenny Abrahamson would be directing an supernatural drama adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel The Little Stranger, scripted by Lucinda Coxon, in which Domhnall Gleeson would play the lead role of Dr Faraday.[3] On 5 May 2017, Ruth Wilson was reportedly cast in the film, which would be produced by Element Pictures with Gail Egan and Dark Trick with Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds.[4] On 23 May 2017, Focus Features acquired the worldwide distribution rights to the film, excluding the UK, France and Switzerland, where Pathé would be releasing. Will Poulter, and Charlotte Rampling were also cast in the film, which was produced by Egan, Andrea Calderwood, and Ed Guiney, and developed by Potboiler Productions, Film4 Productions, Element and Dark Trick.[5]

Principal photography on the film began on 6 July 2017 in the UK. It took place in different locations outside London, including Winslow, Buckinghamshire, and Yorkshire, for about ten weeks.[6]

Theatrical run[edit]

The film was released in the United States on 31 August 2018[7] and on 21 September 2018 in the United Kingdom.[8]

In its opening weekend in the United States the film made $417,000 from 474 theaters, for an average of just $880 per venue.[9] During its opening weekend in the UK and Ireland it opened to £294,900 from 296 sites, an average of under £1,000 per cinema.[10]


On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 124 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Little Stranger's reliance on atmosphere may satisfy audiences in the mood for sophisticated horror fare — while frustrating those seeking more visceral thrills."[11] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]


  1. ^ "THE LITTLE STRANGER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  2. ^ "The Little Stranger (2018)". The Numbers. IMDb. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  3. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (25 September 2015). "Domhnall Gleeson Reteaming With 'Frank' And 'Room' Director Lenny Abrahamson For 'The Little Stranger'". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (5 May 2017). "Ruth Wilson Joins Domhnall Gleeson In Lenny Abrahamson-Helmed 'The Little Stranger'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  5. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (23 May 2017). "Focus Features Acquires Lenny Abrahamson's 'The Little Stranger' – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  6. ^ Grater, Tom (6 July 2017). "Lenny Abrahamson's 'The Little Stranger' starts UK shoot". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  7. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (27 September 2017). "Lenny Abrahamson's 'The Little Stranger' Gets A UK Release Date & New Poster". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  8. ^ Heath, Paul (16 August 2018). "'Mary, Queen Of Scots', 'Boy Erased' & 'The Little Stranger': Focus Features Dates Trio For Next Fall". The Hollywood News. Heathside Media. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2 September 2018). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Accumulates Wealth Over Labor Day With $116M+ Total; Bigger Than 'The Help' & 'The Butler'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  10. ^ Grater, Tom (24 September 2018). "'The House With A Clock In Its Walls' tops 'A Simple Favour' at UK box office". Screen Daily. Media Business Insight. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  11. ^ "The Little Stranger (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  12. ^ "The Little Stranger Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2 October 2018.

External links[edit]