The Little Stranger 2018 ***

After the low-budget, high profile success of Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s follow-up caused confusion and derision when released in 2018; it looks and sometimes feels like a horror film, but there’s no horror and the punch-line is subtle to the point of invisibility. Nevertheless, this adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel has much to commend it, even if it cleared halls in multiplexes. Dr Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is called to visit Hundreds Hall, the falling-apart country pile of the once prosperous Ayers family. Faraday has had a fascination for the house, and the family, since he was a child, and he inveigles himself with the present family including Will Poulter as Roderick, badly burnt and traumatised, sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) with whom the doctor has some romantic feelings, and Charlotte Rampling as the Ayers family matriarch. Supernatural reasons for the house’s history are discussed, and may well be true, but The Little Stranger stops short of any kind of physical horror, and the dark reflections are as much about Faradary’s social climbing as anything. Well-acted by Wilson in particular, The Little Stranger is an intelligent, high-brow film that almost no-one saw.



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