The Little Stranger is more than just a horror film
The Little Stranger tells the story of Dr Faraday, the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked. The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries. But it is now in decline and its inhabitants - mother, son and daughter - are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how disturbingly, the family's story is about to become entwined with his own.
I went into the viewing of this film without the preconception of reading the book the only idea I had was that this was a new period British ghost story. Being a fan of the horror genre the invite to a pre screening at 20th Century Foxes private cinema rooms in the heart of Soho was a no brainer. So with my wife in toe we took the trip to London to watch the portrayal of Sarah Rogers 2009 novel come to life.
If you are looking for a fast paced film this one isn't for you it is slow weaving and meanders with the story narrated by the main subject Dr Farraday from some point after the post World War 2 events. Domhnall Gleeson plays Farraday with a distinct coldness which adds to the atmosphere of the oppression that is depicted by the crumbling facade of Hundreds Hall where he is called to treat the young maid Betty (Liv Hill) from what appears to be nothing more than mild depression.
Here he meets Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) the current owner of Hundreds Hall and along with Betty lives there with his mother Angela (Charlotte Rampling) and sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) Roderick was injured in the war and Faraday begins experimental treatments to heal his leg. Along the way, Faraday’s fascination with the house gives way to affection for Caroline. But some sinister presence may have plans for the Ayres family.
The biggest question tho is what is the sinister presence? Is it the enveloping madness of Roderick or the brilliantly portrayed belief by the mother that her dead daughter Susan is haunting the house. You may even find yourself asking how dark does the courtship of Farraday and Caroline play out in this imaginatively written gothic horror. Whatever conclusion you come up with there is something distinctly disturbing about Hundreds Hall and its story teller.
The horror for me in this film is the way it makes you feel throughout and even for a while after the end credits have finished. Director Lenny Abrahamson has delivered a film with an unsettling eeriness that still has you trying to make sense out of who or what was haunting who with no real sense of conclusion. Don't get me wrong all the clues are there masterfully woven into the story but I for one was itching to go back and watch it again to get a true grasp on the reality of what had happened.
I would describe this film as a psychological horror drama and for me as a paranormal investigator who likes more questions than answers I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.