THE LITTLE STRANGER (2018) Reviews and overview

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‘These delusions are contagious’

The Little Stranger is a 2018 Irish-British supernatural horror film directed by Lenny Abrahamson from a screenplay by Lucinda Coxon, based on Sarah Waters’ novel of the same name. The movie stars Domnhall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson and Charlotte Rampling.


Doctor Faraday (Domnhall Gleeson), the son of a housemaid, has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1947, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked.

Hundreds Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries. But it is now in decline and its inhabitants – mother, son and daughter – are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life.

When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how terrifyingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own…


The Little Stranger is a truly engaging, intelligent take on a haunted house, one that provides gorgeous scenery and a beautifully subtle Classical score (Stephen Rennicks: Frank 2014Room 2015). Again, there are multiple ways to interpret the film – be it supernatural, psychological, or beyond – and that is part of the joy of The Little Stranger.” Jeannie Blue, Cryptic Rock

“Birkeland’s cinematography creates an effectively chilly atmosphere. But it’s perhaps a little too cold to draw us in. The cast are all superb, but with characters this stiff, and stiff-upper-lipped, there are only glimpses of emotion to keep us engaged in this gothic tale. It’s not until relatively late in the story that we realise the depths of their desires, or the destructive power that they hold.” Helen O’Hara, Empire

” …Lenny Abrahamson directs, bringing to it the sense of enclosing dread and claustrophobic dysfunction familiar from his previous picture, the abduction-abuse nightmare Room

. The Little Stranger is fluently made and really well acted, particularly by Ruth Wilson, though maybe a bit too constrained by period-movie prestige to be properly scary.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

” …the creaks aren’t in the night but are in the tormented psyches of the film’s main protagonists.  The Little Stranger doesn’t scare us as often as might have been expected but it is still a disturbing affair. It’s a ghost story in which politics, class and money are the most frightening elements.” Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

” …subtlety can go only go so far, and the past becomes a trunk mined for spooky costumes and effects. There are a few jump scares and shocking images, but Mr. Abrahamson lets the dread build slowly, nudged along by Stephen Rennicks’s mournful, eerie score and Ole Bratt Birkeland’s brown-shadowed cinematography.” A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“In the final scenes, Abrahamson reverts to the twists and tropes of the typical ghost story. But before that, he uses shivery suspense and a keen sense of character to craft The Little Stranger into a hypnotic and haunting tale of how the past can grab hold of the flesh-and-blood present and squeeze. Don’t let this mesmerizing mystery slip between the cracks of studio neglect and marketing indifference. It’s spellbinding.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Genre fans in the market for some old-school horror may be surprised to find an undeniably unsettling but sober-sided human study of very English class conflict and aspirational desire, the light supernatural swirlings of which mostly work to aggravate more earthly crises of loneliness, grief and stiff-upper-lipped romance.” Guy Lodge, Variety

Cast and characters:

  • Domhnall Gleeson … Doctor Faraday
  • Ruth Wilson … Caroline Ayres
  • Charlotte Rampling … Mrs. Ayres
  • Will Poulter … Roderick Ayres
  • Josh Dylan … Bland
  • Kate Phillips … Diana Baker-Hyde
  • Anna Madeley … Anne Granger
  • Camilla Arfwedson … Young Mrs. Ayres
  • Tipper Seifert-Cleveland … Young Susan
  • Lorne MacFadyen … Doctor Calder
  • Darren Kent … TBC
  • Dixie Egerickx …Gillian Baker-Hyde
  • Tim Plester … TBC
  • Amy Marston … Mrs. Blundell
  • Sarah Crowden … Miss Dabney

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