'Eli Roth Presents The Stranger': Film Review

Eduardo Moreno
A lifeless, fang-less vampire movie

The arrival of a mysterious stranger with "contagious blood" sets off a violent chain of events in Guillermo Amoedo's unconventional horror film

Guillermo Amoedo's vampire thriller is unlikely to get a commercial boost with its ungainly title prominently featuring the name of its producer. The Chilean director has populated his Canada-set film with Chilean actors delivering English-language performances, resulting in a disorienting feeling that further detracts from the already stilted proceedings. Tamping down its vampire tropes with murky plotting and a sluggish pace, Eli Roth Presents The Stranger lacks the visceral excitement necessary to attract any but the most undemanding genre fans.

The titular character is Martin (Cristobal Tapia Montt), who shows up late one night at the small town home of sixteen-year-old Peter (Nicolas Duran) and his nurse mother (Alessandra Guerzoni). The haggard-looking stranger inquires as to the whereabouts of his ex-love Ana (Lorenza Izzo), only to be informed that she's dead.

After finding her grave in the local cemetery, Martin, offering no resistance and clearly harboring a death wish, is beset upon by a gang of teens who brutally beat and stab him, leaving him for dead. The attackers are led by Caleb (Ariel Levy), whose police lieutenant father, De Luca (Luis Gnecco) quickly covers up the crime.

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When Peter finds the gravely wounded Martin and brings him home to be attended by his reluctant mother, it sets off a gruesomely violent chain of events spurred by the revelation that Martin's blood, unlike that of most vampires, has healing properties, a quality that greatly interests De Luca after his son is nearly burned alive.

While the director/screenwriter is to be commended for avoiding the usual bloodsucker clichés, he hasn't replaced them with anything particularly interesting, with the result that the story plays like a quasi-mystical melodrama featuring characters about whom we care little.

Despite the profusion of gore, the film never achieves sufficient dramatic tension, and the performances, with the exception of Duran as the teen whose beneficent impulses set the plot in motion, are mostly unconvincing. Stronger on atmosphere than coherence, The Stranger mainly just seems strange.

Production: Sobras International Pictures
Cast: Cristobal Tapia-Montt, Luis Gnecco, Nicolas Duran, Ariel Levy, Alessandra Guerzoni, Aaron Burns, Lorenza Izzo
Director/screenwriter: Guillermo Amoeda
Producers: Miguel Ascensio Llamas, Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth
Executive producers: Colleen Camp, Cary Elwes
Director of photography: Chechu Graf
Production designer: Amparo Baeza
Editor: Diego Machco Gomez
Costume designer: Elias Hormazabal
Composer: Manuel Riveiro
Casting: Eduardo Dominguez, Moira Miller

Not rated, 93 min.

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