Stranger with My Face (2009)
Pleasantly surprised followed by sadly disappointed is the contradictory state I find myself in having watched "Stranger with My Face" the TV movie adaptation of Lois Duncan's novel. Now I've never read Duncan's novel so I don't know what has changed or whether if anything of her story actually remains but here we have a super natural thriller about a young girl uncovering a dark secret that she has a twin sister and a twin sister who through aural projection contacts her. It starts off well, creepy with a nice sense of mystery and even a smidgen of horror about it but unfortunately the longer "Stranger with My Face" goes on the less interesting it becomes, feeling drawn out and repetitive.
Following the sudden death of her husband in a car accident Shelley Stratton (Catherine Hicks - Shadow of Fear) decides that her and her daughter Alexis (Emily Hirst) and adopted daughter Laurie (Alexz Johnson - Final Destination 3) would be better off leaving the city and starting afresh at the summer house on the island. But as soon as they arrive strange things start to happen as people mention seeing Laurie at places she wasn't and she gets a feeling that she is being watched. But all becomes clear when all of a sudden she learns that she has a twin sister and one which is trying to get in contact but through aural projection.
Whilst the opening to "Stranger with My Face" which sees Laurie seeing a vision of her dead father just minutes after the crash is a bit forced the actual first half is quite good. There is a real mystery to things as we discover that friends from school on the island believe they saw Laura the night before with a guy called Jeff, even Jeff believes he was with her despite Laurie claiming it can't be as she wasn't there. It makes you wonder what is what especially when we then see some bad things happening to various people such as little sister Alexis convinced that Laurie tried to choke her in her sleep. And when we discover that Laurie has a twin sister called Lia that she knew nothing about, being separated as babies, it is still good because you begin to think she has returned, jealous of the nice life that Laurie has.
But this is where my problems start because whilst "Stranger with My Face" is a super natural thriller which brings in an element of aural projection it drags things out. It's not that the whole aural projection side of things is bad because it is nicely worked as Laurie discovers the truth about Lia and in doing so puts herself in danger. But it just feels drawn out trying to make it more dramatic where quicker and punchier would have made it more exciting and would have helped in making the resolution of all this drama better because sadly that is the worst part of the movie. It's bad because it has the feel of a director and screen writer unsure of how to end the movie and so goes from drama to happiness with an edit which feels weak.
The best thing about "Stranger with My Face" is Alexz Johnson who delivers a much better than expected performance, well this is a TV movie. Johnson is convincing as Laurie, mystified and annoyed when she discovers she has a twin she never knew about whilst as Lia she gets across the nastiness and jealousy without turning her into a complete pantomime character. As for the rest of the cast well they are unfortunate to be saddled with flat, unimaginative characters which don't allow them to act but just deliver lines.
What this all boils down to is that "Stranger with My Face" starts off surprisingly well for a TV movie but unfortunately the longer it goes on the more disappointing it becomes as it becomes drawn out and repetitive. It is a shame because the basic storyline is good and Alexz Johnson delivers a nice performance as both twins but that second half lets it down.
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