When Strangers Appear (2001) Radha Mitchell, Josh Lucas, Barry Watson, Kevin Anderson Movie Review

When Strangers Appear (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Radha Mitchell in When Strangers Appear (2001)

Danger Enters a Diner

When Beth (Radha Mitchell) opens up the diner she owns she thought it would be just another quiet day but then Jack (Barry Watson), a distressed man looking worst for wears shows up. Shortly after another vehicle shows up with three men lead by Peter (Josh Lucas) and before they come in Jack scurries off to hide in the kitchen. He tells Beth they are after him but she isn't sure who she should believe. On discovering Jack is suffering a knife wound she helps to get him treatment but still isn't sure who she can trust and she can't go to the police due to issues with the local cop which no one believes.

All the way through "When Strangers Appear" I kept on thinking why couldn't this storyline have been around when Alfred Hitchcock was making his suspenseful thrillers as if anyone could have made it work he could of. Yes by that I am saying that "When Strangers Appear" doesn't work and is not the suspenseful thriller which it is trying to be, failing to utilize the mystery and the locations to its full potential and turning itself into a movie where the appeal of the actors becomes more important than anything else.

Barry Watson in When Strangers Appear (2001)

Now what "When Strangers Appear" wants to be is a movie of mystery with various possibilities. Firstly we have Jack who tells Beth that Peter and his men are after him but Peter has a different version of things so we have Beth caught in the middle and not sure who she can trust whilst unable to turn to anyone as she says the local cop raped her a while back. But whilst all this is going on it is also hinting that there must be more to all this than first meets the eye as to give a little spoiler away, after Jack is treated by Beth's doctor friend the doctor ends up dead and she is not sure who did it.

The trouble is that the air of suspense which "When Strangers Appear" needs to work never materializes and so you are never drawn in to the mystery of what is going on. Maybe the trouble is that there is too much focus on the attractiveness of the main cast because in almost ever scene, even those which scream out for mystery the lighting just plays too much to show the actors good looks. Or maybe the trouble is that whilst director Scott Reynolds keeps the locations tight he fails to capitalize on them.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "When Strangers Appear" is worth watching it fails to be the suspenseful thriller which it tries hard to be and you just feel the whole time that director Scott Reynolds has missed a trick with what could have been a great modern thriller rather than just an ordinary movie.