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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Stray

Director: Joe Sill
Screenplay: J. D. Dillard y Alex Theurer
Year: 2019

In “Stray”, a teenager orphan girl teams up with the detective investigating the death of her mother. Together they soon discover a supernatural force the menaces the city and they find out that the teenager possesses hidden powers, which could be the key to stop this menace.

The plot of “Stray” is based on science fiction cinema, combined with police investigations and suspense. This first full-length movie from director Joe SIll, who has worked on several shorts and animated projects, presents an interesting story that since the start shows sparks of its science fiction elements. Although the screenplay of writers J. D. Dillard and Alex Theurer have a few flaws that I will discuss later, it manages that the viewer keeps interested in the events that happen in the movie.

As previously stated, the screenplay has some important flaws. For example, there is a part that carbon 14 dating technique is used, a technique used principally by archeologists, and that in forensic sciences is used in cases where corpses identity cannot be identified. The identity of the corpse in question is completely known and the results of this test have no relevance in the plot. Similarly, the decisions taken in several moments by the detective investigating the central case of this movie are questionable and a different decision could have cleared the case sooner. Like this, there are things that are brought up at some point in the movie and later have no importance or relevance. The pace in which the story is shown also has its problems, as in some parts it is too slow and in other too fast and this manages that the viewer lose focus on the plot. Luckily, the plot is interesting enough to regain the viewer's attention.

The main cast is composed by Christine Woods (“Hello Ladies”) and Karen Fukuhara (“Suicide Squad”) as the detective and the orphan teenager, respectively. These two characters get to understand each other as they have both lost someone important in their lives and are sympathetic to each other’s pain. Both actresses do a great job with their characters and in general, the rest of the cast does a decent job. The only performance that is out of place with the rest is the one of the villain, which came as exaggerated for my liking.

Where this movie stands out is in the special effects. Even though they are nothing too elaborated, they look great and are well utilized in the story. In particular, the outcome is an exhibition of special effects well accompanied by Japanese style music. This is clearly a result of the director’s background in animated films. This movie manages to intertwine Japanese culture inside of a United States scope using the immigration topic. This manages to give everything that happens a more mystical feeling, as it is presented subtly as something that is part of Japanese culture and that people from the United States have limited knowledge.

Even with its flaws and inconsistencies, “Stray” is an entertaining science fiction movie with an interesting plot and flashy special effects. It is a good combination of Japanese style movies with US-style movies that manage to find a spot in a movie genre that is overpopulated with superhero movies. This is a good option for those that enjoy supernatural thriller movies and are looking for something original and entertaining.

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