The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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The Little Stranger's reliance on atmosphere may satisfy audiences in the mood for sophisticated horror fare -- while frustrating those seeking more visceral thrills.
All Critics (131)
| Top Critics (24)
| Fresh (85)
| Rotten (46)
Occasionally spooky, but more often snoozy.
A hypnotic and haunting tale of how the past can grab hold of the flesh-and-blood present and squeeze. Don't let this mesmerizing mystery slip between the cracks of studio neglect and marketing indifference. It's spellbinding.
Everything here is precise: Abrahamson's direction, the understated performances, the intrusive sounds that stop just shy of jarring. The result is more sad and spooky than suspenseful or scary, an effect that seems entirely, and pleasingly, intentional.
At times, each of the main characters has us wondering what's going on beneath the surface. Who, if anyone, is to be trusted?
[An] elegant, cold-to-the-touch blend of drama and gothic horror.
Abrahamson seems fascinated with the idea of gothic storytelling, but he hasn't quite got the knack of it.
Atmospheric, well-acted and rewards your patience with an intelligent, unusual ending.
After the credits roll it's Ruth Wilson's captivating performance that will resonate above all else.
Gleeson's performance anchors the film masterfully.
More inanimate than haunting, The Little Stranger is Abrahamson's least interesting feature.
The slow yet steady pace is an asset, but the story only feels half-formed and the ending hits with all the force of a wet tissue.
It's a curious atmospheric but flawed psychodrama.
You serious The Little Stranger? That's what you're giving me?
Domhnall Gleeson needs a Sydney Fife-level jerk-off station.
The Gothic anti-horror isn't the problem, its that no one seems to have quite figured out what the point of all this misery is supposed to be.
If you're a fan of slow burning Gothic horror, the kind where characters wander slowly inside ornate and empty houses investigating various noises, then The Little Stranger is the movie for you. It's about a laconic doctor (Domhnall Gleeson) inserting himself in the lives of a wealthy family who has fallen on hard times, their once glorious estate left to wither in post-WWII Britain. The family is convinced the spirit of a dead little girl haunts their estate and has its ghostly sights set on destroying the last vestiges of their bloodline. It's a ghost story by design but the supernatural elements get placed on pause for long stretches. The rest of the movie is a restrained romance between the doctor and the introverted and awkward lady of the house, played by Ruth Wilson (TV's The Affair). In reality, the doctor is more infatuated with the house than the people inside, fondly recalling his early obsession from childhood. It's easy to see why. The house, and its exquisite production design, is enchanting. At points it feels like the movie has to remember that it's a ghost story or a mystery as it shifts narrative tracks. The Little Stranger is a movie simmering in eerie atmosphere and is pristinely directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room), a man proving how readily he can adapt his artistic style. For a good hour, I was on board with the movie and enjoyed its patient, controlled buildup. It's practically the opposite of the more visceral horror set pieces we've become accustomed to. By the end, I was unsure whether the somewhat ambiguous ending justified the time and path taken to get there. If you don't have a healthy love of Poe-styled Gothic horror, you'll likely be restless as you watch understated, refined, restrained British family going through understated, refined, restrained drama.
Nate's Grade: C+
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