Quibi – the new streaming service made just for your portable devices – has been out for a bit now and they have made sure that the horror genre has been well represented during their initial rollout.
We talked a week or so back about 50 States Of Fright – which by the way are still rolling out new episodes should you be inclined to take my advice and check it out – but another high profile show is titled The Stranger – a 13 episode thriller that stars Maika Monroe, Dane DeHaan, and Avan Jogia.
If you’re not yet familiar with the Quibi way of doing things – the stories are told in short segments – quick bites (Quibi)- that range anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes in length. The Stranger tells us a linear story – spanning a 12 hour period (just like the ole 24 TV show) and while light on any sort of blood or gore – it does manage to weave a tale that had me eagerly anticipating each coming segment.
The storyline is a bit familiar – although ramped up to take advantage of our newfound high tech times. I found myself thinking a lot about the old Rutger Hauer flick The Hitcher as I watched The Stranger play out. While not a direct retelling of that classic story, it certainly bears enough similarities that I think any of you who might be fans of the film will see what I’m talking about.
Episode one opens up with Clare – an LA implant from Kansas who is picking up her first client as a rideshare driver, at a beautiful mansion high in the Hollywood hills. She texts Carl E. – to inform him that she is in the driveway – he gets into the car and Clare’s 12-hour nightmare begins.
Clare’s conversation with Carl gets creepy quick and Clare is rapidly involved in the fight of her life. As is always the case – I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll stay sparse on the details but as the storyline ramps up Clare partners up with JJ – a gas station attendant with a keen eye for technology – who helps Clare figure out how Carl is able to keep tracking her but for every discovery that Clare is able to unearth – Carl ups the pressure and the violence.
In fairness – things do get a bit hokey at times. The inclusion of rabid coyotes in a city setting is an odd choice (although they did pull it off in Wolfen a few decades back) and some of the situations that Clare finds herself in are a bit – shall we say – over the top but, that’s what makes it so much damn fun and when all is said and done the performances by Monroe, DeHaan, and Jogia save the day. Maika Monroe is no stranger to the genre – you should remember her for It Follows – and she is equally as spectacular here. I like her as a final girl – she just has the look and the attitude to pull it off. Dane DeHaan will always be the kid who loses his mind and flies around killing people in Chronicle to me but of course – his list of credits is long and he is great as the bad guy in this one. I knew nothing of Avan Jogia heading into this viewing but he is damn good as well – and he and Monroe are very strong together – their scenes being some of the best of the series.
Overall although far, far from perfect – I have to admit that I really found myself deeply involved in The Stranger and while the ending was telegraphed very early in the episodes – I still found it satisfying and yes – even a tad bit surprising.
So far – my little foray into the world of Quibi has been an enjoyable one and if they keep pumping out this type of high-quality programming it may just end up on permanent rotation in my nightly game of streaming roulette.