Day Of The Stranger Image

See, the mouth movements and the sound being off is meant to be a joke of sorts. Well, I think it is at least. But the dialogue is most serious, so again, the method of delivery is at odds with what is being said in both tone and content. Again, films such as Get Mean (one of the best movies of its kind) did not have poor dubbing because they were being silly. Aside from the main actor (even then, not always), and maybe a large supporting character, the rest of the cast would be Italians. Thus, the English voices not matching any given character’s mouth was due to the limitations of budget and technology.

Please, do not take any of what I just said to mean that adding fake grain or intentionally poor dubbing can never be done in a modern film. Several films such as What’s Up Tiger Lily, Kung Pow!, Grindhouse, and quite recently, Corona Zombies have done one or both of those things to excellent effect. Implementing such style in no impacted the tone and themes the filmmakers’ were hoping to achieve. In fact, most of the time, it actively enhanced the comedic atmosphere set forth by the dialogue, characterizations, and plot. Of course, results may vary there, as not everyone will like any of the titles just named.

“…Rutter, at every turn, misjudged the way to deliver his story.”

But, have you figured out the crucial difference as to why the grain and dub work for those movies and not for Day Of The Stranger? It is because Rutter wrote a very stone-faced mediation on life, love, death, the duality of a person’s soul, and a human’s relation to nature. Aside from a tiny handful of scenes, what is being said, how it is being said, and the film’s overall tone is somber and mediative. Manborg is a ridiculously over-the-top sci-fi actioner, not an outright comedy like some of the other movies previously mentioned. It contains quite a few scenes of dramatic weight for the characters, so balancing comedy and drama in such a way is possible.

But Rutter, at every turn, misjudged the way to deliver his story. I understand he wanted to pay homage to a favorite genre of his, but he miscalculated the right story to fight that idea. A strange, claymation family adventure that is 35-years-old should not have more gravitas and weight to its contemplations on the meaning of life, death, and love than the more serious-minded movie about a matter-of-fact gunslinger literally meeting Satan, who may or may not be another version of himself. But, The Adventures Of Mark Twain knows what it is trying to be from the get-go. Here, the directing style is at odds with its screenplay.

Day Of The Stranger is not without a few merits. The cinematography is striking, and the editing puts the viewer in the shoes of its characters as best as possible. But it is a movie waging a war against itself. The self-serious screenplay is directed in a way that sucks out the tension and dramatic stakes. The digitally added grain and poor dubbing prove distracting and only prevent the audience from engaging with the characters and the world. As such, the movie comes across as an earnest but confused mess.

Day Of The Stranger (2020)

Directed and Written: Thomas Lee Rutter

Starring: Dale Sheppard, Gary Baxter, Maryam Forouhandeh, Gary Shail, James Taylor, Richard Rowbotham, etc.

Movie score: 2/10

Day Of The Stranger Image

"…waging a war against itself."

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