• Strangerland

    Released By: Alchemy
    Released On: August 18, 2015
    Director: Kim Farrant
    Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    When they find out that their 15 year-old daughter Lily is having a sexual relationship with one of her teachers, Catharine (Nicole Kidman) and Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) Parker have little other option but to relocate, especially after Matthew earns a restraining order for pummeling Lily's unwise educator. With the entire town wagging their chins about the Parker family business, the couple move Lily and their son Tommy to the small town of Nathgari, Australia, hoping to start anew.

    Of course, things aren't as simple as a location change. Tommy, suffering from insomnia, goes on nightly walks to places unknown, much to the displeasure of her mother. Lily has clearly not learned her lesson from her previous escapades, Lolitaing about while severely under-dressed, and picking up older boys down at the local skate park. Catherine finds herself alone with a lot of time to think while the kids are away and Matt buries himself in his work as a pharmacist, and even when he's home, has a severe intimacy issue that finds the two sleeping in separate beds.

    When Tom goes walking one night with Lily in tow, they aren't missed the next morning when Matthew leaves for work early and Catherine sleeps in. But when Catherine finds out that the two children aren't in school...and haven't been for quite some time...she begins to seriously question what they've been up to. And when the debris from a massive dust storm settles, Lilly and Tommy are still missing, potentially a kind of publicity that Matthew doesn't want to deal with. Turning to local police detective David Rae (Hugo Weaving) may be a start in the right direction, but there are very few answers, and a whole lot of suspects. Was it Steve and Slug, Lily's pickups from the skate park? Was it Burtie, the mentally damaged man-child who works around the Parker house? Has Lily fled back to Neil, her old teacher? Or is the answer a little closer to home? As time slips by, the chances of finding the children grow slimmer, and Catherine finds her relationship with her husband growing more and more estranged, and she slowly loses her grasp on reality.

    Strangerland, Director Kim Farrant's first feature film, is an odd beast. Employing the skills of Kidman, Fiennes, the child actors, and the setting of the harsh Australian climate, she builds the film slowly and broodingly at first, creating a sense of tension and unease. There's not too much shown, and that's a good thing; from the viewer's seat, we can only wonder at what has happened in the past and what's going on in the present. Kidman and Fiennes have real anti-chemistry here, adding fuel to the fire, and Maddison Brown is downright creepy as the under-aged seductress. Potential suspects are slowly revealed, with equal time and mystery presented to each, setting the stage for what could have been a corker of an ending. Unfortunately, Strangerland never delivers. As the search for the children becomes more hopeless, so does hope for a decent finish; by the time the film hits the 80-minute mark, things begin unraveling that seem downright stupid. By the time Strangerland drags to a close, we're forced to wonder what in the hell the point was.


    Strangerland comes to Blu-ray from Alchemy in a 2.35:1 transfer that looks fantastic, with the ruggedness of the scenery coming to life in a variety of colours, and maintaining good detail in the murkiness of the night scenes. No issues to be found here, it's a great transfer.

    The Dolby True HD 5.1 audio track is also well done, with dialogue remaining clear throughout, and tasteful distribution to the surrounds and LFE channel. No hisses, pops, etc, are present to distract from the viewing.

    A Cast Featurette (8:23) is first up in the supplements, as multiple cast and crew talk about working on the film and with each other. There are several clips from the film used as well.

    A Story Featurette (5:36) is pretty much the Cast Featurette, but with focus on the story of the film...this probably could've been joined with the first extra.

    5 Previews for other Alchemy titles are also included.

    The Final Word:

    A fantastic start, Farrant proves that she can create atmosphere and fully utilize good actors, but not follow through and deliver the goods before the credits roll.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!