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When Strangers Appear wasn't marketed very well to say the least - the trailer makes it out to be another Scream clone - and that's a real shame as this little thriller is an excellent film that really deserves to be more seen! New Zealand born director Scott Reynolds previously made the decent psychological thriller 'The Ugly', but with this film he really upped the bar. The beauty of When Strangers Appear is the fact that for most of the film, the audience never really knows what is going on, and that is exactly how a mystery thriller should be! The film starts off as we follow Beth to work. It seems like an ordinary (boring) day, until a strange drifter walks in. After giving him breakfast, he disappears when three surfers turn up. He claims that the surfers are following him and are also the reason for his stab wound. However, the trio of surfers have a very different story, as it transpires that the stranger appears to be a dangerous psychopath. After a shocking turn of events, Beth finds herself in the middle of an extremely dangerous situation.
This film works thanks to the way that Scott Reynolds builds the atmosphere and tension. The central character, Beth, is very easy to feel for; while the supporting cast are all mysterious enough to generate interest themselves. The film is topped off by a whole host of brilliantly tense situations that help to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The bathroom scene is the biggest standout in this respect, and is positively nail biting! The isolated setting compliments the story excellently, and helps to build intrigue in its own right. The plot builds nicely throughout, and there's never a shortage of things happening. The fact that the film only features a handful of characters is certainly to its benefit too as it means that the film never loses its focus and this ensures that it's always easy to buy into the plot. It's true that When Strangers Appear isn't very substantial overall, but as a thriller it serves it's purpose well all the way up until the explosive ending and I see no reason why this film wont be enjoyed by anyone who takes the time to watch it. Very much recommended!
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