‘The Stranger in our Bed’ Review: A Thriller That Doesn’t Know How to Create Tension
It is time to review “The Stranger in Our Bed” a new thriller that reaches the screens of Hulu and many territories. Thrillers are some of the most popular genres in film. A good thriller is able to stay in people’s memories quite easily. We tend to remember that which impacts us or makes us feel something, anything, in any particular way. You can watch a movie and if it makes you feel sad, uncomfortable, or excited, you will probably remember it a lot more than those that make you feel little or nothing.
Creating this sensation in the viewer is no easy task, and thrillers have an even harder time. They are made to make you feel unsure and insecure. Anything crazy can happen in a thriller if the story builds to it properly, of course. However, many thrillers fail because they lack one or more elements that are key when it comes to telling a story. Stories are more than just plots, and movies in particular are the combination of so many elements that it is a miracle that good movies exist.
The Stranger in Our Bed is directed by Giles Anderson and stars Emily Berrington, Ben-Lloyd Hughes, and Samantha Bond. The film tells the story of Charlotte, a woman who finds herself trapped in an abusive marriage. Charlotte finds comfort when she starts an affair with a mysterious man. However, when this man disappears, she needs to go back to her husband, and things only get worse from there.
The Stranger in Our Bed is a very strange movie. Not because its plot is weird or anything of the sort. The Stranger in Our Bed is strange because it lacks primordial elements that need to appear in a thriller if you want that thriller to be effective in any way. The film tries very hard to be mysterious and tries most of all to feel unnerving, but it fails for the simple reason that its characters are basically nonexistent.
The movie has a cast, and the actors are doing the best they can with the material, but the script and the direction fail them. No matter how hard they try, there is just nothing there to work with. Characters are more than just the people that have dialogue in a story or a film. Characters are vessels through which themes and emotions pass to reach the audience. If there is not a character that the audience can attach themselves to, then there really is no point in telling a story because no one would care.
As you are watching The Stranger in Our Bed, the issue becomes apparent. Berrington, who serves as the main actress in the movie, plays a vague definition of a woman, and her actions are sometimes completely baffling. There is this disconnect between what the movie implies we must feel and what makes us feel. Beerington tries, but she is not very good at being a compelling presence on screen. Maybe this was the wrong role for her, but either way, she looks and acts bored throughout the entire runtime.
The same can be said for the rest of the cast. Hughes, for example, plays the role of an eccentric and abusive husband. His behavior is completely all over the place, and it makes you wonder how Charlotte and this character got married in the first place. Did she not see how she was just mere minutes after meeting him the first time? Did he behave normally and then go completely insane the moment they got married? The characters don’t have a life outside the confines of the plot, and that takes you out of the movie more often than not.
The pacing is also quite strange. The movie tries to fit different timelines together as we experience Charlotte in the present and her memories of her mysterious lover. Sadly, this gimmick goes nowhere, and as the movie reaches its end, it is clear that the plot only descends into the predictable. The movie ends up telling a story as old as time, there is no surprise, discovery, or revelation, and it makes the movie feel like a waste of time, which is rather sad.
Visually, the movie is well shot. Everything looks very standard. Sadly, the movie also takes the choice of going for the washed-up look that many movies tried to make a thing a decade ago. Sometimes it feels like filmmakers are always trying to portray Europe as the gloomiest possible place. Everything looks depressive. You don’t really need to make a movie this dark and gray to make the audience feel intrigued and fearful of what is happening on screen. You just need a good story and characters.
In the end, the biggest issue with The Stranger in Our Bed is that it is boring. The story never strays away from familiar territory, and nowadays, movies need to compete with television, which is always pushing the envelope when it comes to which stories to tell. If movies keep telling us they won’t change to adapt to the current times, then maybe we shouldn’t watch them. It is hard, but an effort needs to be made.