The Strays: A suspenseful British thriller with social commentary
Netflix's latest release, The Strays, is a gripping drama-thriller that deals with social issues. While it's labeled as a social issues drama, the film's violent nature makes it feel more like a psychological thriller.
The story isn't wholly unique, as it shares some similarities with Jordan Peele's Get Out and Us, but it's entirely on its own. The film is British and feels like a British take on Peele's style of focusing on social issues and eerie vibes.
The main protagonist is Cheryl, who is seen abandoning her abusive husband and children for a better life at the film's start. Fast forwarding 20 years, Cheryl took on a new name Neve and currently lives as a socialite and successful deputy headmistress of a private school in a wealthy British suburb.
She is content to live with her insurance broker husband, Ian, and their two teenage children, Mary and Sebastian while concealing her past and race as a black woman.
Soon, her perfect life turns upside down when her past catches up to her. Neve frequently feels that she and her family are being stalked by mysterious black youths, making her question her sanity.
This film abruptly changes the timeline quite a few times; in a flashback, it is revealed that Neve's children from her past life, Marvin and Abigail, are now adults and have been stalking her long enough to be in contact with her family members and eventually reach her.
From there, her social life comes to a standstill. Her past is revealed to her family and society unexpectedly, and now Ian and the children find it hard to accept her.
Meanwhile, it is unclear what Marvin and Abigail want from Neve. Is it revenge? Or is it wanting to be accepted as part of her present family? The viewers won't understand it until the end of the film.
The last 30 minutes of the film is full of suspense. There is no horror element or overly use of violence here, but there is a constant sense of dread that something horrible will happen to Neve's family the whole time. However, the film ends abruptly and raises more questions than it answers about the fate of the two families.
The film takes a slow-burn approach and builds tension until the end. The characters are complex, and the story is told from different perspectives, adding layers to the narrative. The ending is sudden, but it feels natural and organic, given the story's trajectory.
The performances in The Strays are superb, with Ashley Madekwe delivering a standout performance as the lead character, Cheryl/Neve. The supporting cast is equally talented, and their performances help bring the story to life.
In summary, The Strays is a psychological drama-thriller that deals with social issues and offers a unique perspective on the genre. It's a must-see for fans of Jordan Peele's movies and is full of a rollercoaster of emotions till the end.