06 January 2017

Stray 2015 - REVIEW by Jay Pendlebury

I have always felt that if a movie can stay in your thoughts after the viewing it has succeeded. Horror movies in particular I think are successful this way. I have movies on my must watch list for those who haven't seen them that I hesitate to re-watch myself because of this reason. They affected me, stayed in my head and possibly disturbed me somewhat. I appreciate the ones that elicit this reaction if it is integral to the plot. Yes gore and violence for gore and violence's sake are fun too for us horror fans but something that is beyond eye candy is needed now and then to feed the soul.

2015's Stray directed by Nena Eskridge is not my definition of a horror movie. It is however an extremely honest and sincere effort that will elicit feelings from the viewer. This, as I said previously, falls under my definition of successful as a film. It is an extremely slow burning plot that builds and builds to an even more extremely sad ending. I hesitate to call this movie depressing because that suggests its of poor quality. Depressing maybe the most accurate description though. While not an overly shocking ending or horror movie gory payoff at the end, it creeps up and "gets you in the feels" for lack of a better description.

Stray centres on Jennifer, played by Gabrielle Stone. She's homeless and we see her do what she must to survive and get what she wants. Jennifer is a complex character who reveals more and more of herself emotionally as the story goes on. Gabrielle does an excellent job as she shows us every side to herself, changing how you feel about her every step of the way. Once her basic needs are fulfilled she attempts to fill other voids in her life. Such as a relationship

She stumbles upon Greg, played by Dan McGlaughlin, and once her sights on set on him, nothing gets in her way. Greg's girlfriend Sarah (Samantha Fairfield Walsh) see's what Jennifer is attempting but becomes powerless to stop her. Greg's mother Edna (Arita Trahan) sees something else in Jennifer, and relates to her somewhat. This all leads to the characters getting caught in Jennifer's wave of destruction whether intended or not. I hesitate to say much more at risk of spoiling your own feelings and opinions of Jennifer. She ranges from "Fatal Attraction" to relatable and the key to the plot is the discovery along the way. Her story is what leads me to my depressing description when I could relate to Jennifer's hopelessness in the end.

The film itself is of great quality. It does not feel like an indie picture at all. I did find the slow burning plot almost painful at times but like any good picture everything is justified by the end. Every actor does an excellent job with their role. Nena Eskridge does a great job of directing and gets some great camera angles and shots. I wouldn't call this a must watch movie and quite frankly if you are feeling sad or depressed I would encourage you not to watch it because it is so successful at taking you on Jennifer's journey. I think this was a very well done movie and is worth a watch. Don't expect true horror but please keep an open mind and be wary of who you help along the way.

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