I find myself strangely conflicted about ESTRANGED, a recent thriller released from Well Go USA. The movie as a whole is pretty decent, however it has some gaping issues that prohibit me from loving it. The premise is interesting, and it could have been stunning if the execution had been better. As it is, the film is a mediocre attempt at making a shocking thriller.
If you are not familiar with ESTRANGED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:
After years of partying abroad, a terrible accident has January (Amy Manson, “Atlantis,” “Being Human”) confined to a wheelchair, with no memory of her past, her family, or the stately manor that was once her home. But something isn’t right. They say she ran away, but won’t tell her why. Her sister wishes she’d never come home. They’re locking her in at night. And the way her brother looks at her… From the Producers of INSIDIOUS and THE DEVIL INSIDE, ESTRANGED is a modern Gothic tale of dark secrets, shocking motives, and a reminder: Blood is thicker than water, and some stains never come out.
Despite the film’s flaws, I will state the cover artwork drew me in immediately. The imagery is stark and bleak, and it projects an air of mystery that begs to be uncovered.
ESTRANGED is shot well and looks good from a cinematography standpoint. The production value of the film appears decent, although I have no information on its budget.
The acting in ESTRANGED is pretty good, with the whole cast doing a fine job with their performances. James Cosmo, who fans of GAME OF THRONES will recognize, does a great job with his role here, as he does with just about any role he plays. Amy Manson, who plays the lead character, January, gives a chilling and yet perplexing performance. Manson appears to be a great actress, but her character here never seems to come fully together. I felt like I could relate to her at times, but she also seemed vastly distant from me for most of the film. This is probably due in part to the writing, and not the actor’s talent level.
The storyline in ESTRANGED is where I have the most problems. I was good with the plot until about 3/4 of the way in, when the big reveal comes about. My first problem here is that the big reveal isn’t fully explained. It is mentioned in passing, and even then, I didn’t quite understand where it was going. The second problem is that the rest of the film, from that point on, doesn’t make much sense. I knew what was going on for the most part, but the actions of the characters seemed, well, dumb. Perhaps I need to revisit the film again…maybe I missed something. But as first impressions go, I’m not impressed.
Still, you can’t deny the haunting atmosphere the film builds, nor the tension that is created between the characters. As such, I’m in the middle of the fence on ESTRANGED. I suggest giving it a look for yourself to see where you stand. It is available now in a variety of formats.