on September 8, 2013
Emily (Estella Warren) is an actress who is married to Robert (William Baldwin), a psychologist. Emily has issues, especially having to deal with the fact her friend Sophie (Katia Winter) killed herself. Emily is later kidnapped and tortured by an unknown assailant. Her husband takes her away to an island as a get away, only to have Sarah (Sarah Butler) show up, a woman who just lost her boyfriend at a nearby cliff accident.
This is a film where you suspect the twist is coming. The actors were less than convincing in their roles in an improbable plot that felt phoney. The film is fairly boring, even during the 'exciting" parts.
Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, rape, nudity (Sarah Butler)
on September 7, 2013
Stilted acting, an unconvincing storyline, a script that could have been written by a fourth-grader, hackneyed horror film tropes (zombie imagery, etc), and phony picture-perfect makeup/costume design are all topped-off with a distractingly pervasive soap operatic soundtrack. The cover blurb says that this film is "A dark and twisted psychological thriller!" Yet, the "psychology" of it all is pretty rudimentary.
On the other hand, the cinematography is well-done despite the very low budget. No matter how limited the scope, there is some nice Balearic Islands scenery, and Sarah Butler, as tormented house-guest "Sarah," strips briefly in order to spice things up. Finally, there is some attempt at a twist, even if it's not a terribly original one, at the end.
THE STRANGER WITHIN is reminiscent of some of the corniest suspense films of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Indeed, it echos the title of a 1974 TV movie which apparently has a similar conflict and must have inspired this one.
on November 17, 2013
I want to begin this review with a caveat. I have followed the career of Canadian athlete, model, and actress Estella Warren with both interest and growing concern. I know that Warren is considered to not be a good actress and that she was given a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress for her first major film appearance in Tim Burton’s terrible reimagining of Planet of the Apes. I always found this unfair, because the impression I have drawn from watching her career is that Warren has made a consistent effort to portray women who were intelligent and independent rather than simply being a beautiful object and I think this is an interesting goal. To achieve this, Warren has developed a reputation for refusing nude scenes and any attempt to exploit her solely for her looks, in her first appearance in a film (Perfume) she argues with and then walks out on a fashion photographer who wants her to be the center of a group nude scene with a “heroin theme”. This situation continued through to Kangaroo Jack where she apparently refused to do a scene where she hung from a cliff in her underwear. This refusal caused a rant by Anthony Anderson, who derided her professionalism, apparently because he was the one who ended up dangling from that cliff.
This attitude seems to have cost Warren professionally because she has become the actress most likely to be brutalized, both physically and emotionally, on film during the 21st Century. This includes her being branded in Planet of the Apes, raped under anesthesia in I Accuse, kicked in her hugely pregnant belly in The Cooler, terrorized in Evil Remains, Lies and Crimes, and Dangerous Intuition, publicly humiliated in Driven and Her Minor Thing and subjected to whatever the hell was going on in Blue Seduction.
This takes us to The Stranger Within, in which Warren plays Emily, a Broadway actress, who is subjected to sort of the greatest hits of female degradation from the films listed above. I chose to watch this film primarily because Warren was billed as the star, but after a promising beginning I found myself watching some of the most brutal scenes to which an actress has ever been subjected, right up there with Monica Belluci in Irreversible and Adrienne Corri in A Clockwork Orange. The last time I found myself as disturbed by such action was, in fact, the first time I saw Clockwork Orange. The difference is that, in these two more serious films that, however disturbing these were to watch, the rape and brutalization was integral to the plot. In Stranger Within the torture and rape seem to be simply gratuitous brutalization as an audience teaser, and I cannot for the life of me understand why Warren agreed to perform these scenes. Quite honestly, it would been more dignified to have hung nude from a cliff in Kangaroo Jack, and certainly to have performed KJ’s bathing scene wearing something less than a tank top.
For anyone who is disturbed by the possible spoiler alert, I am describing events that take place in Stranger Within’s first 20 minutes, not some crucial plot development. After Warren’s character, Emily, is rescued by a full swat team, complete with laser beam sights penetrating the darkness of her dungeon, another scene that's seems gratuitous. Does anyone believe that the police would assemble a swat team to check out a phone tip? Anyway, we then zip off to a Mediterranean island, where Emily and her psychiatrist husband Robert, played by of all people, Billy Baldwin, who resembles a psychiatrist in the same way David Swimmer acted like a Paleontologist in Friends, i.e. it is a respectable sounding profession which allows the character to pursue women. Baldwin oozes about the film, always proclaiming the need to leave and “see a patient”. To my mind, anyone who would have Billy Baldwin as their analyst deserves anything that happens to them. In consequence, Robert is always off, treating some alleged patient when terrible things happen to Emily, and we are subject to the usual faces at dark windows, “ghosts” in rotting corpse makeup, ad nauseum. About halfway through this film, the viewer should begin to suspect that nothing pleasant will happen in this film, and that it is not a “spine tingling thriller”, but yet another excuse to brutalize and terrify a beautiful woman.
Someone should tell Estella Warren that appearing, even as the star above the title, in films such as Stranger Within and Blue Seduction is not good for her, or for women in general. The soft ethereal beauty she showed in her earlier films has turned into sort of a worn, haggard beauty that, although still attractive, suggests a person on their way down. Heath Ledger probably died as a result of his harrowing portrayal of the Joker, and portraying the character of Emily seems to be a similarly destructive role. Of course, in Warren’s next film she portrays a Manson girl, so as a supporter of her work, I remain uneasy about her future.
on September 3, 2013
I have watched a lot of movies over the years and this movie is one of the most disappointing movies I have ever viewed. When you are watching a B grade movie and know it, your expectations adjust and there is at least one or two areas of enjoyment whether it's just downright silly or over the top, that makes you smirk or grin at it's stupidity or weirdness. This movie had well named actors such as William Baldwin, Estella Warren and Sarah Butler in lead roles, so one expected it to be decent. The only character that the audience probably builds any sympathy for was a pathetic weak joke without a clue, who is totally suckered throughout the movie, the winner in the movie is the coldest, most unlikeable character you could find. He was not even a good bad guy that you kind of like to hate. And the Sarah Butler's character although a "hottie" was still uninspiring. The whole plot was no surprise (been done better so many times before that it was so predictable) and no twist at the end. Watching this movie was like watching someone throw a ball on the ground and just watching roll till it stopped. I am not exaggerating. There are no memorable moments to even think back on (with the exception of when Sarah Butler takes her clothes off). A total waste. And, I have watched some really terrible movies and never felt so cheated and empty at the end like I felt with this movie. Not even worth free rental. Don't waste your time.