Home Entertainment The Stranger movie review: Quibi Cat-and-Mouse thriller works best in feature form,...

The Stranger movie review: Quibi Cat-and-Mouse thriller works best in feature form, as seen on Hulu

The Stranger movie review: Quibi Cat-and-Mouse thriller works best in feature form, as seen on Hulu

Maika Monroe plays a ride-share driver pursued by a deranged passenger in Veena Sud’s serial thriller project, which the director brought back after the short-lived streaming failure.

Remember Quibi? The short-lived streaming service-turned-scam, which greatly overstated the number of people who felt forced to watch smaller shows and movies on their phones, appears to have done one thing right before integrating it into the Roku Channel: letting creators keep it. Ownership of their work after a two-year exclusivity period. Not content to let her 13-part thriller The Stranger disappear along with the platform on which it debuted, The Killing creator Veena Sood has remade the project into a feature film alongside editor Philip Fowler. The 8-minute episodes named after the hour in which they occur (starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 7 a.m.) are gone, replaced by a 98-minute Hulu feature that shows no sign of being fixed.

Six days after moving to Los Angeles with her dog Pebbles, tour driver Claire (Maika Monroe) picks up Carl E. (Dane DeHaan) from a mansion he doesn’t own. It’s weird (though not obviously evil) from the moment he asks to sit in the front instead of the back, and notices she’s not a local based on her reaction to how long it will take to get to LAX. (She’s actually from Wamego, Kansas, as was the ruby ​​slipper-wearing Dorothy; “Wizard of Oz” parallels recur throughout.)

After charming her for a few minutes, he tells her that he killed the occupants of the pickup point and seems willing to do the same to her until she intentionally crashes her car and escapes; As fate would have it, unfortunately, this is only the beginning of a long night of cat and mouse in which he is largely absent. A skilled hacker with encyclopedic knowledge of the algorithms that exist in the background of our daily lives, his presence is more virtual than physical.

Think of Monroe, who couldn’t help but put herself in exactly this kind of situation. After her stunning performance in “It Follows,” she established herself as the pre-eminent scream queen of her generation with interesting roles in the likes of “The Guest” and “Watcher”; She will next appear in Neon’s “Longlegs” alongside Nicolas Cage, and will reprise her most famous role in the cleverly titled “The Following.” Well-suited to this type of role without feeling restricted by it, Monroe excels at playing girls who reflect their plight and save themselves. Often seen in close-up on the verge of tears, she embodies a sympathetic vulnerability that can’t quite hide the perseverance budding from within.

“I’m not making this up,” Claire tells her mother over the phone after the police fire her and the ride-sharing company puts her out of business. “This isn’t like last time.” This naturally leads us to wonder if she is, in fact, making it up, as her stalker — whose name happens to be just an anagram of her own — is relentlessly following her with the power of a single-minded, well, supernatural entity who is “following.” The camera does too, as Paul Yee’s fluid cinematography lends the events an immediacy befitting the life-or-death stakes. “The Stranger” takes place over the course of 12 hours but appears to be in real time.

What it doesn’t have is an innovative narrative, with few scenes matching the level of dread generated by that hole in the car: the slow realization that something is wrong, and the fight-or-flight panic of being in a mess. A tight place with a recognized killer who seems to know everything about you. This premise has no shortage of potential, and while the film doesn’t waste it, it doesn’t increase it either, to the point where the behind-the-scenes story (about the project’s post-Quibi fate) becomes more important. Distinct from the actual plot. Monroe is as good a driver as ever — if this were a ride-sharing app, she would definitely get five stars — but she drives a very familiar car.

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