Director Lenny Abrahamson gained a lot of attention for his work with the Oscar-nominated Room. Now he has a moody horror movie out called The Little Stranger set in an aging estate in post-war Britain.
Domhnall Gleason stars as one Dr. Faraday, a young man starting his practice in a town he grew up in. His mother was, for a period, a maid in the nearby Hundreds Hall, run by the Ayres family. They’s an upper class family down on its financial luck, reduced to a single maid in a manor house that appears to be falling apart. Faraday has been entranced by the house since he was a boy and he may also be entranced by one Caroline Ayers (Ruth Wilson), sister to current Lord of the Manner Roderick. Roderick himself is heavily scarred physically and mentally, but there may be something else in the house. Yes, the house may be haunted.
Here’s the thing: this isn’t your standard horror movie. It’s more about mood than sudden scares, with few if any jump scares. If anything, it’s more of a character study and the viewer might be forgiven to wonder whether the house really is haunted as much of the movie shows the relationship between the social climber Faraday and Caroline, a sad woman seeing her family’s traditional way of life fall apart all around her. There are sporadic moments of violence or creepiness, but don’t expect ghosts to be popping out of every corner, and most if not all of the supernatural stuff could have an alternate explanation. For mood and such, I’m giving this one 8 out of 10 ringing bells.