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The Dark Stranger

Canada 2015
produced by
Paula Devonshire, Glen Wood, Jay Firestone (executive), Mark Gingras (executive), Vanessa Piazza (executive) for Devonshire Productions, Viddywell Films, Prodigy Pictures, Vigilante Productions, Prestige Films, Raven Banner
directed by Chris Trebilcock
starring Katie Findlay, Stephen McHattie, Enrico Colantoni, Jennifer Dale, Mark O'Brien, Alex Ozerov, Emma Campbell
written by Chris Trebilcock, music by Steve Cupani, special effects by Ben Belanger, animation and visual effects by Keyframe Digital, prosthetics designed by Francois Dagenais, paintings by Janet Trebilcock, additional illustrations by Francis Lapierre

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Since her mum (Emma Campbell), a painter, had committed suicide before her very eyes, Leah (Katie Findlay) hasn't felt herself anymore, especially since she, an artist herself with a focus on graphic novels, always felt a very strong bond between her and her mum. Now "not feeling herself anymore", it has to be stated here, does not just mean she's a bit down and cranky, but on top of the expected depressions a severe case of agoraphobia, suicidal tendencies, self mutilation and hallucinogenic spells. Now her dad really couldn't be more understanding - so much so that her younger brother Toby (Alex Ozerov) gets jealous, just because he dealt with the situation much better -, and he tries to organize a show showing both Leah's and her mum's art, basically to celebrate mum the artist rather than shed tears about her death ... but Leah doesn't see any reasoning in that, and she thinks the gallerist dad has chosen, Randall Toth (Stephen McHattie), is of the devil. But something drives her to start drawing again for the first time since mum's death, a graphic novel about a ragdoll of her likeness falling for the "Dark Stranger" who runs a sinister carnival where he makes her his main attraction - and curiously enough, the Dark Stranger is modelled after Randall Toth. Thing is, when she has these drawing spells, Leah is in a complete trance and after each such period, she finds she has cut herself and the reds in her drawings are her blood. But apparently, the graphic novel soon gets real, starting with Leah's therapist (Jennifer Dale) getting murdered under mysterious circumstances, Toby disappearing ... and all of this being mirrored in Leah's drawings - and none of this is a good thing ...

 

The Dark Stranger is most certainly a most unusual piece of horror cinema, a fittingly slow-moving movie that relies heavily on atmosphere and slowly drags the viewer into its own world, mixing live action with animation and often defying mere logic - but the reason that this works really well is that the film's very well-written and doesn't lose its story in its effects and general weirdness, which is of course greatly helped by a subtle directorial effort and a first rate ensemble cast.

That said, don't expect a cookie-cutter horror tale - but instead get so much more ...

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD