The summary of Stray made it sound like it might have been a serial killer or slasher film. Well, there are some elements of this but thankfully the film is much, much more and is actually rather unique. This thrilled me as I usually hate slasher films because they are generally pretty mindless and the killers not particularly well developed. And, all you really know about them is that they like killing folks! Well, Stray isn’t this sort of film and was actually worth seeing…although I should warn you that it’s anything but a feel-good movie.
I also should point out that the film was directed, produced and written by Nena Eskridge. While it’s impressive that she comfortably wears so many hats, what really is impressive is that this also appears to be her first time! Yes, Eskridge’s first film is a full-length effort and one that looked a heck of a lot better than many debuts I've seen. It makes me want to see more of the filmmaker's work in the future!
When the story begins, Jennifer (Gabrielle Stone) has just stabbed some guy! You aren’t sure why nor whether or not the guy was badly injured. All you know is that soon Jen is on the run and looking for some help when a nice guy comes to her assistance. However, her reaction is strange…she soon seduces him and then asks him to marry her! Considering the guy only met her hours before, it’s not surprising that he’s taken aback and when he doesn’t agree to marry her, Jen viciously kills him! Clearly this woman has issues!
Andrew Sensenig, Gabrielle Stone, Dan McGlaughlin
Martin's Grade: B
In the next scene, Jennifer comes into a restaurant looking for work. However, after getting the job she soon shows that she’s a master manipulator and destroys the boss’ relationship with another woman…and soon Jen and the boss, Greg (Dan McGlaughlin), are a number. The film then skips ahead…and Jen is pregnant and Greg is excited about her having his baby. However, Greg is kind of dumb…as the baby is not his and all sorts of very serious warning signs start to crop up. Despite Jen being rather unstable, he’s in love with the idea of being in love with her. But there are huge problems looming, as Jen desperately wants to have a man want her…but also pushes away the same men. She also has worse parenting instincts than a hamster! All the while, the viewer knows that if things sour in this relationship, there’s little preventing Jennifer from killing once again.
As a retired psychotherapist, I must admit that folks like Jen are not at all typical of folks with severe personality disorders, though such a person could exist. The diagnosis, if you care to know it, would be a Borderline Personality with strong antisocial characteristics…very, very strong ones considering her complete lack of conscience and willingness to kill! It creates an interesting portrait and some of the men in her life, particularly the guy she stabbed at the beginning of the film, are also interesting psychological portraits! But it’s not essentially a slasher or serial killer film…it’s a deeper portrait of a dangerous sociopath who will kill if she sees no other reasonable options! Worth seeing and unlike any picture I can recall having seen.