The Strays

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description? Yes

In my quest to see better films in 2023, I almost didn’t see The Strays. There’s no one in this I’m familiar with, no director, nothing. Just a random Netflix drop of a British psychological thriller. And yet, I still found myself interested enough to click play.

The Strays reminds me quite a bit of Amazon’s limited series Them, which featured a suburban idyllic life that perhaps is not so idyllic. As we open and are introduced to what seems like a very different story, it’s hard to see where The Strays might be going, or where it ends. For the majority of the film, it seems like a suburban wife and mother is doing her best to raise her kids and maintain that middle class sheen. It’s not Don’t Worry Darling, but it is more of a psychological exploration like that was than a straight up horror film.

The Strays continues forward, making the movie more and more uncomfortable, and making this reality deeper in question. Finally, when the twist is reached, you’ve been spun around so much that the tension is carrying the entire film across the finish line. In the final 15 minutes or so of this, I was basically on the edge of my seat.

It’s been a while since I could remember being so hooked on the outcome of a film, with such a dark cloud of unease. But, that’s what this film does, it builds you up, pushes you off the cliff, but just before you hit the bottom you wake up. I was not a fan of the ending. It kind of just deflated the tension immediately, even if it did follow a pattern of sorts.

The audio description here is great, doing a solid job of describing the tension, the creepy facial expressions, the silence that can be cut with a knife. There’s a few moments of violence, but not gratuitous, which seems like a surprise considering all the choices this film could have made. It decides to wax poetic about those we sometimes leave behind, and what that level of desertion can do to those in that boat.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, or even the ride. my grade largely effects that how the movie leaves itself just didn’t work for me. But, I can’t deny the tension was strong.

Final Grade: B-

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