When Strangers Appear (2001)

Rating: C+

Dir: Scott Reynolds
Star: Radha Mitchell, Barry Watson, Josh Lucas, Kevin Anderson

We did screw up by watching the trailer first – do not do this, as it renders about the first 50 minutes of the film redundant. It covers all the important points as a waitress (Mitchell) falls in with the cinematic standard Disturbing Outsider (Watson), in a town apparently inhabited only by the local cop, his wife and a doctor. Once you get beyond that, however, the movie begins to kick in, director Reynolds carving out some nicely-tense scenes, even if he does seem to have a thing for bathrooms.

The finale, in which our heroine gets drenched in strangely unflammable petrol, does go several notches over the top, yet has a circularity to it which is oddly satisfying. New Zealand stands in for Oregon (wouldn’t it have been easier and cheaper to film in, er, Oregon?) – Chris spotted a small slew of errors such as “tyres” rather than tires. The overall effect is pleasing in a minor, if somewhat inconsistent, kind of way. Just don’t watch the trailer, whatever you do.