Ashley Madekwe returns to acting with new movie ‘The Strays’. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and like Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’, then ‘The Strays’ could be your next watch choice.
‘The Strays’ is the directorial debut of Nathaniel Martello-White, who made his cinematic debut with this film and wrote the screenplay.
Synopsis for The Strays (2023)
Neve (Ashley Madekwe) is a woman whose life can be considered perfect. She lives on the outskirts of London, is married to a wealthy broker, has two children, attends expensive private schools and has a good career.
However, when he begins to notice strange men and women appearing unexpectedly at odd times, he begins to doubt his sanity. The privileged life he had worked so hard to build began to go awry.
Raise the issue of racism in London
After Jordan Peele’s breakthrough with ‘Get Out’ and Us’, many other filmmakers, especially POC (Person of Color) have made thrillers and horror films as a vehicle to convey these stories. matters that are important to them. Nathaniel Martello-White, the director of ‘The Strays’, also wants to be involved in solving this problem.
‘The Strays’ follows an African-American woman named Cheryl who runs away from her life, changes her identity to Neve, and makes a new life in the suburbs of London.
It all started with a conversation between Cheryl and someone on the phone, saying that “they” were treating her like trash, like a worthless asshole. Although his career flourished, they still did not appreciate him because of the difference in ethnicity. That’s what made him run away.
Cheryl did everything just to be accepted where they were. Marry a white man, remove his voice, cover his real hair with a wig, and ban all things related to his culture. So when two people of color kept stalking and claiming to be her own children, Neve felt she was starting to lose her mind.
It felt like Nathaniel Martello-White wanted to try to explore the British class differences, and how people of color often have to change their personalities when living in a predominantly white society. Prove that racism is real and how it affects their psyche.
Awkward script with no basic explanation
From the very beginning, the audience got to see Cheryl’s secret life. Questions were collected, such as what background made Cheryl willing to leave her family and change her life, how bad was her previous life? How does he struggle during his change of identity?
However, the question remains unanswered until the end of the film. All the audience knows is a phone conversation about his altercation with his racist landlord. With a high degree of paranoia, depression that he did to change his life of course not just because of that war, right?
The same goes for other characters with less background, especially the brothers Dione and Carl. There is no background on them, how hard they lived without their parents for 20 years so they have to avenge them. Making it difficult for the audience to empathize and only see them as a threat, a stalker. There is no red thread connecting everything. ‘The Strays’ becomes a story without context and problem solving.
Conclusion of The Strays (2023)
‘The Strays’ is a psychological thriller that also raises questions about British racism and class differences and their psychological impact. However, the absence of a story setting and existing characters makes the story confusing and meaningless. Breaking the tension and paranoia of the main character has worked so hard to build.
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