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The Strange Ones (2017) - Movie Review

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The Strange Ones (2017) - Movie Review

4 starsMesmerizing is the word that comes to mind.  It is my initial response to the events and questions surrounding the events in The Strange Ones, a film that just last week was exclusive solely to DirecTV.  It now, thanks to a distribution deal from Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV, arrives in theaters for a limited time.  For my money, this film is a must-see.  

The directing team of Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein love to push boundaries.  Written by Radcliff, The Strange Ones, being more visual and thoughtful than a novel, is an intellectual web of hushed mystery and deeply profound thoughts.  You might go see this film with your friends but, mark my words, you each will walk away with several different interpretations of what you’ve just seen.  And, truly, that is the best compliment I can provide for this film.

Two brothers – Nick (Alex Pettyfer: I Am Number Four) and the younger Sam (James Freedson-Jackson, Cop Car) – have hit the road together in a beat-up Volvo.  There is a darkness that guides them and, perhaps, even shields them from the world at large.  Nick is hiding something and Jeremiah has been stabbed beneath his left side shoulder; both are apathetic.  They want silence and, chasing it, are headed to the woods.

And that is where the movie begins…with a camping trip.  This is the feature-length debut from Radcliff and Wolkstein and, even if it clocks in at a quick 82-minutes, the enigmatic film is beautiful and thought provoking.  It is both meditative and mysterious, filling the lens with an abundance of nature and mood.  In fact, the very atmosphere that is crafted within this narrative is one reason the film works as well as it does.  Radcliff and Wolkstein are well on their way to becoming a remarkable team.

The construction of the narrative – as there is more than a little doubt put upon us as to whether or not the two are actually brothers – is a challenging maze.  We know something is “off” with the two travelers as their PTSD is articulated just enough.  We get hints of a fire.  We get to hear and feel the lies that dominate the first half of the movie; this where the dread in the camping trip comes from. 

And then – thanks to a roadside accident with a deer and the inclusion of the characters Kelly (Emily Althaus, Orange Is the New Black), Jeremiah (Tobias Campbell, Conviction), Luke (Owen Campbell, Boardwalk Empire), and an elderly gentleman named Gary (Gene Jones) – we get the repercussions of the trip itself.  Trust me, everything is flipped on its head and the details become the message of the matter in this patchwork quilt of philosophical ideas that these two artists have stitched together.

Some will not bother to follow the winding backwoods this story plots out as it does indeed shift in place and in time.  Others will see the challenge and rise to it, responding to the solid performance from Freedson-Jackson.  And then there are those who will not appreciate its noncommittal stance on what is actually happening.  For me, that is what makes the film work as well as it does.  For others, it will be problematic.

The Strange Ones is an absorbing flick.  The doubt it casts upon the two brothers is maintained in a way that demands we constantly ask questions.  This is unique for a film – especially in January.  When the film becomes too cerebral, cinematographer Todd Banhazi swoops in to remind us of the crisp beauty surrounding all the mystery and suspense created by the story.

The Strange Ones is a work of magic, casting its spell in a very dark manner, and creates a debut film worth talking about endlessly with your friends and your family.  It is in theaters for a limited time.  

The Strange Ones (2017) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violent images, and brief sexual material.
81 mins
: Christopher Radcliff, Lauren Wolkstein
Christopher Radcliff,
Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus
: Thriller
The Strange Ones.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Remember, it's all in your head. It's not real."
Theatrical Distributor:
Vertical Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 5, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Mysterious events surround two travelers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to a dark and complex web of secrets.

No details available.

The Strange Ones (2017) - Movie Review

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