The Reel Review


Things are not quite as they seem in this story about a young man and teenage boy traveling across rural America. What seems to be a simple vacation eventually reveals a dark and complex web of secrets in this thriller starring Alex Pettyfer and James Freedson-Jackson.

James Freedson-Jackson and Alex Pettyfer in The Strange Ones.

Without giving away too much of the plot, this is a slow burn of a story about abuse and its long lasting effects on the human psyche. There is lots of symbolism in The Strange Ones – caves, fire, black cats – which is left open to viewer interpretation.

Those paying close attention to the subtle clues will figure out the story before all is revealed in the finalé. Writer/directors Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein give their story an added level of mystery and suspense by gradually piecing together their jigsaw puzzle through a series of time jumps.

Alex Pettyfer and James Freedson-Jackson in The Strange Ones.

Stylish camerawork and a hypnotic score help to create a mysterious, moody vibe. Pettyfer and Freedson-Jackson both deliver compelling performances as the road tripping duo. Freedson-Jackson, in particular, captures the emotional conflict his character feels over the repeated trauma he has experienced. For viewers with the patience, The Strange Ones is a thought-provoking, even haunting, film.


The Strange Ones was released on DirecTV in December 2017 before hitting theaters and video on demand a month later.

Toni Garrn and Alex Pettyfer on the cover the June 2020 edition of German Vogue.

• In addition to acting, British-born Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike, I Am Number Four) has modeled for Burberry and GAP. In March 2021 he announced he is expecting his first child with wife, German model Toni Garrn.

• James Freedson-Jackson (Jessica Jones, Cop Car) received the Special Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival for his performance in The Strange Ones. 


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