One of the most recent horror films available on Netflix, The Strays, has left viewers feeling uneasy due to the challenging themes.
The movie came out on Netflix back in February, and since then, dozens of viewers have reported being “scarred for life,” and unable to sleep due to the horror.
The Strays centers around a deputy headteacher named Neve, who happens to be mixed race. It follows her life from poverty and abuse to her search for happiness in a tiny English town, where she tries to lead a normal suburban existence.
In making the leap, she had to leave her past behind and chose to let go of everything that represents being black, turning away from her culture.
But Neve becomes quite worried when two strangers, who appear to be acquainted with her, start popping up in her life at fairly unexpected times, making it impossible for her to let go of her past.
The synopsis reads: “A perfect life… a perfect lie… An upper-middle-class woman’s perfectly crafted life begins to unravel with the arrival of two shadowy figures in her town.”
This notion of “code-switching” fascinated the movie’s director, Nathaniel Martello-White, who spoke to The Big Issue.
Code-switching is the process by which members of a marginalized group modify their looks and behavior to blend in with the dominant culture.
Martello-White told the outlet: “Code-switching is something that a lot of Black people don’t even realise they’re doing. It has just become a sort of subconscious survival mechanism.
“In the context of the Black space, I was really interested in – if a woman really self-styled herself on those people in that suburb, what would be the cost? And how much effort would that take?”
And it seems people are really impressed with the issues the movie addresses and how well they are integrated into the storyline.
One viewer wrote: “This is an excellent film for active viewing and critical analysis. On the surface, it presents themes regarding race, trauma, morality & ethics, and mental health, but it also incorporates subtle elements of colorism, white flight, and ACEs. It’s not horror in a conventional way, but its discombobulated sense of right & wrong might feel pretty horrific. People who view the world in “black and white” (rather than many shades of grey) may be triggered by and reflective of the main character and antagonists.”
While another said: “This movie is about intergenerational trauma and the cycles of abuse, neglect, and destruction it causes and is caused by. It’s told via a psychological horror genre to captivate a large Netflix audience. Yes, there are some plot holes, and a little more back story about Cheryl’s true past and what she abandoned kids went through might have helped more of the audience understand the characters, ending and message, but this is gripping, clever, and thought-provoking.”
“I thought this was EXCELLENT from start to finish and watched it twice! Fantastic plot and twists, great acting and cast, many clever elements connected to race, identity, and bias interweaved into the storyline, just BRILLIANT!” a third commented.