The Little Stranger (film)
|The Little Stranger|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lenny Abrahamson|
|Written by||Lucinda Coxon|
|Based on||The Little Stranger|
by Sarah Waters
|Music by||Stephen Rennicks|
|Cinematography||Ole Bratt Birkeland|
|Edited by||Nathan Nugent|
|Distributed by||Pathé (France)|
20th Century Fox (United Kingdom)
Focus Features (US)
|Box office||$1.8 million|
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 where his mother used to work, 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.
In post-war 40s Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday is called to visit a sick maid at the dilapidated Hundreds Hall. The maid confesses to faking in hopes the doctor would send her home. The Hall now belongs to Roderick Ayres, a badly wounded Royal Air Force veteran severely burned in the War, who is being nursed by his sister, Caroline. Dr. Faraday recalls his childhood in 1919 visiting the home, where his beloved mother had once been a maid to the grand Ayres family. He broke an acorn from an elaborate wooden carving as a souvenir, to his mother's anger, in view of young Susan, the Ayres' first daughter, known as Suki.
Dr. Faraday returns to the house frequently to tend Roderick's damaged legs with experimental electrolysis, which yields positive results. He is invited to a dinner party, with a few couples in attendance, along with the precocious daughter of the younger couple. Throughout the course of the evening, Caroline's dog restlessly walks about the room avoiding the girl, finally disappearing behind the draperies.
Hoping to play with him, the girl follows the dog, but is horribly mauled, despite no earlier signs of distemper from the dog. Dr. Faraday performs emergency surgery, but the girl's parents threaten to sue, and Caroline bitterly agrees that her dog must be euthanized.
After one of his many drinking bouts, Roderick sets the library on fire and decides to leave the next day, admitting he is unable to handle the house anymore. Caroline agrees to sell the unused land for a housing development. Dr. Faraday takes Caroline to a party and on their return drive they kiss and he attempts to go further. Caroline stops him and runs home. Later, Dr. Faraday apologizes and asks to start fresh. He tells Caroline that he turned down a job in London to be with her, much to Caroline's annoyance.
There are intermittent noises occurring in the house, alarming Caroline, Mrs Ayres, and Betty the maid. The servants' bells sound without anyone ringing them. Suki's name appears on woodwork throughout the house. Faraday tries to convince Caroline that it's all coincidence and buried memories resurfacing, nothing more. A 19th-century tube communication device linking the empty nursery to the kitchen also begins to sound inexplicably. When Mrs Ayres goes upstairs to investigate, she is suddenly locked in the nursery. Experiencing shadowy figures and strange banging noises, Mrs Ayres, in a frantic attempt to escape, breaks the windows, cutting both arms. After the others in the household rescue her from the room, she comes to believe that Suki's ghost is nearby and always has been. She asks Faraday to take Caroline away from Hundreds Hall, wishing to be left alone with her daughter's spirit, but he refuses. He also discovers that Mrs. Ayres is covered in small wounds, apparently inflicted by an angry Suki.
Not long afterwards, Mrs Ayers kills herself by slashing her wrists with the glass from a broken picture frame. Roderick attends the funeral, admonishing Caroline to leave the house lest she be the next to die. On the night of the funeral, Faraday and a reluctant Caroline make plans to marry in six weeks' time. Later, Faraday considers that the strange occurrences in the house may well be due to poltergeist activity. It is suggested that supernatural phenomena might be the product of random, unintended telekinesis, which may well be poltergeist-like activity caused by a living person (as opposed to a dead one).
Caroline eventually breaks off her engagement to Dr. Faraday, insisting that she would not be happy married to him, and expressing her intention to sell Hundreds Hall and move far away. Caroline claims that their relationship was never real, but Faraday insists that she is merely exhausted and not thinking clearly.
One night, Faraday has a house call that keeps him off-premises. When he finally arrives home, he learns that Caroline fell from the second floor to her death.
At the inquest regarding Caroline's death, the maid reports that she awoke to hear Caroline going upstairs to investigate a strange noise in the hall, despite the whole floor being empty and locked up. She also reports hearing Caroline cry out "You!" immediately before falling to her death. After Dr. Faraday testifies that Caroline's mind was undoubtedly "clouded," the coroner declares the death to be a suicide. The court concurs.
Months later, Faraday visits the emptied Ayres home while it is up for sale, having kept the keys which Caroline gave him. The finished housing project is seen through the upstairs windows. As he leaves the premises, the lifelike specter of a young Faraday standing at the top of the staircase (where Caroline fell) solemnly watches him before backing away into the darkness.
- Domhnall Gleeson as Dr. Faraday
- Ruth Wilson as Caroline Ayres
- Will Poulter as Roderick Ayres
- Liv Hill as Betty
- Charlotte Rampling as Mrs Ayres
- Harry Hadden-Paton as Dr David Granger
- Anna Madeley as Anne Granger
- Richard McCabe as Dr Seeley
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 direct an adaptation of Sarah Waters' supernatural drama novel The Little Stranger, scripted by Lucinda Coxon, in which Domhnall Gleeson would play the lead role of Dr Faraday. On 5 May 2017, Ruth Wilson was reportedly cast as the female lead. 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.
In its opening weekend in the United States, the film made $417,000 from 474 theaters, for an average of $880 per venue. In its opening weekend in the UK and Ireland, it grossed £294,900 from 296 sites, an average of under £1,000 per cinema.
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On 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." On the horror movie review podcast Horror Movie Talk, the film is rated 4 out of 10 saying that "It was a slow movie that could only be generously classified as about 5% horror movie. It’s slightly interesting because of the human drama, but the scares fall flat."On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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