STRANGER aka STORONNIY (2019) reviews of Ukrainian sci-fi mystery

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Stranger is a 2019 Ukrainian science-fiction mystery feature film about a female detective investigating strange aquatic disappearances.

Written and directed by Dmitriy Tomashpolskiy, the Gagarin Media Film Company production stars Anastasiya Yevtushenko, Darya Tregubova, Maria Bruni, Anna Sukhomlyn, Sergey Kalantay and Mariya Motorna. The original title is Storonniy


A synchronized swimming team disappeared in the swimming pool during a performance. A patient of a water-therapy clinic has since disappeared while taking a bath. How are these cases connected and how does a doll with real hair relate to it?

An inspector with no unsolved cases will have to investigate that. She will also have to find out who she really is…


“It may be a fashionably fractious fever-dream nearly impossible to decode, but the fun is in the attempt, while the imagery is too eerily memorable and the story is too unique to ignore. If you like your Lovecraftian horror with a dash of Lynchian surrealism, you’re bound to enjoy solving Stranger‘s Rubik’s Cube of a plot.” Arrow in the Head

“It’s a visually ambitious film that finds the majesty in brutalist concrete structures and bath taps alike. Inside WTC4, Tomashpolskiy creates suffocating levels of claustrophobia with darker hues of red and greens- blinds and curtains are almost always closed […] Stranger will beguile and flummox you in equal measure.” BritFlicks

Stranger is creative, unusual, striking and complex, it’s a new experience while not stepping entirely out of the familiar realm, it takes influence from classic film and uses it to embrace a more timeless setting. The story is full of twists and turns, many of which you likely won’t see coming, which is a refreshing change from a lot of modern mysteries being painfully transparent.” Film Carnage

“It’s a measured, beautifully-wrought puzzle – and interestingly feminine in a way that Mann and Lovecraft aren’t.  It’s more of an ‘isn’t life strange?’ musing than a genre exercise, but it has moments of spookiness, magic, glamour and transcendence.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“It’s artistic, it’s smart and it feels almost dreamlike in many ways. The closing moments are fantastic and there’s some genuine beauty to be found here, amidst moments that feel haunting or alien. Whether comparisons are made to Luis Buñuel, Guillermo Del Toro, David Lynch or Jan Svankmajer or not, the fact remains that Stranger is its own unearthly creature, an outsider from another place altogether.” Nerdly

Stranger may at first be stylised as a cerebral affair, with every character playing their rôles in an emotionless deadpan – but by the end, the feelings wash over, and a real empathy emerges, decoded by a final, personal text. Take a dip in its waters, to be mystified, muddled – and then moved.” Projected Figures

Filming locations:

Kyiv, Ukraine

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