The Stranger Within is not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s still really bland. The story is all over the place and the acting isn’t anything special, though special credit to Estella Warren for being able to keep a straight face. This is something I’d expect to air on the Lifetime Channel but that might be an insult to Lifetime as some of their movies are at least acceptable entertainment; this one is merely forgettable.
Sony | R – 90 min. – $22.99 | September 3, 2013
Directed by: Adam Neutzsky-Wulff
Writer(s): Adam Neutzsky-Wulff (written by)
Cast: William Baldwin, Estella Warren, Sarah Butler
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Thai
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
The Stranger Within, originally The Stranger Inside, is a typical low-budget thriller with a half-baked script and starring C-list actors… and Baldwin not named Alec.
The story centers around famous stage actress Emily Moore (ESTELLA WARREN) and married to a successful psychiatrist named Robert (WILLIAM BALDWIN). After a masterful stage performance, she’s kidnapped by a man wearing a sack and taken to some dingy dungeon leftover from one of the Saw movies. There he torments her by choking her unconscious before tying her down to a table and assaulting her. Through one of the many awkward edits, and in slow motion, the police manage to somehow find her location and rescue her, though the damage is done and she’s in complete shock.
Unable to go back into acting due to a new-found stage fright, Robert takes Emily to a secluded island to vacation in a lovely villa in Spain where hopefully things will calm down. That is, until Sarah (SARAH WALKER) comes frantically knocking in the middle of the night. They let her in where she tells them her boyfriend died in a hiking accident and she needs help. While Emily wants nothing to do with her, being a psychiatrist, and a dude with a young 20-something in the house, urges to allow Sarah to stay and eventually councils her.
Emily eventually agrees but things only get tenser as Sarah doesn’t have a filter on her mouth and basically says whatever is on her mind which makes Emily uneasy. The remainder of the movie is more or less a cat and mouse game and Emily’s sanity gets called into question later on turning into a ridiculously bad third act, albeit it’s not to say the first two weren’t very good either.
The big problem with The Stranger Within isn’t that it’s made like a Lifetime Movie but kind of a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The first act looks like a generic torture film before turning into a generic suspense-drama with mediocre acting and lifeless direction by writer/producer/director Adam Neutzsky-Wulff, marking his feature debut.
I can’t say it’s a terrible film (no doubt, it is bad, however) because admittedly Estella Warren is at least passable and Sarah Butler is attractive and fair enough as a femme fatale-esque character, but otherwise it’s a bland movie with nothing truly memorable.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
No features were included.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Taking advantage of the Spanish locale, The Stranger Within actually looks half decent on DVD. Presented with a lovely 16×9 enhanced 2.35 aspect ratio transfer, the film does have your usual artifacting but it’s minimal and the detail levels, for standard def, isn’t bad.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track certainly takes advantage of the music cues and songs used throughout helping expanding the surround sound while the center mix is used more for dialogue and other on-screen activity.
OVERALL – 1.5/5
Overall, The Stranger Within is not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s still really bland. The story is all over the place and the acting isn’t anything special, though special credit to Estella Warren for being able to keep a straight face. This is something I’d expect to air on the Lifetime Channel but that might be an insult to Lifetime as some of their movies are at least acceptable entertainment; this one is merely forgettable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman