The Reel Review
Twenty years after leaving London, a light-skinned Black woman’s meticulously crafted life of privilege in the city’s suburbs starts to unravel when she is haunted by two mysterious figures in this psychological horror/thriller on Netflix.
Writer/director Nathaniel Marinello-White’s film debut has the feel of a cheap knockoff of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, just without as clever a story. For the first half of the film, we wonder – is she really being followed? Or is she just losing her mind? Ashley Madekwe (County Lines, Salem) is convincing as the increasingly unlikable and unhinged protagonist emotionally exhausted from maintaining her façade.
The story’s laundry list of themes – about race, privilege, abandonment, cultural appropriation and class – are each touched upon only superficially, never really explored with any depth. The film’s ominous vibe, accentuated by an eerie, dissonant score, is never really earned. Title cards reveal several time jumps and stories from different character’s perspectives, ultimately giving way to a gimmicky twist ending, which while not really that surprising in hindsight, does end with quite the visual.
• Born in South London to a Nigerian-Swiss father and English mother, Ashley Madekwe is best known for her role of Bambi in the 2008 ITV2 drama series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, as social climber Ashley Davenport in the 2011 ABC drama series Revenge and as Tituba in the 2014 TV series Salem.
• In addition to his directing debut in The Strays, UK-born Nathaniel Martello-White has also worked as an actor on stage and screen.
• The Strays was filmed in London and Suffolk, England
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