We’ve all seen the guys down at the bus stop. Dressed in filthy rags, they roam around aimlessly, muttering incoherent gibberish to anyone who will listen and, often times, to no one but themselves. Tragic, to be sure. But would you want to watch a movie told from the point of view of one of these unfortunate souls? In a sense, that’s what you get with Scott Crowell’s “Stranger,” a thoroughly depressing slow burn that picks at all of life’s painful and troublesome scabs. The titular Stranger (uncredited) shuffles largely unnoticed along desolate rural highways or empty urban side streets throughout most of the film, espousing a string of cliche-ridden, nihilist philosophies and trivial observations in a droning monotone voiceover. Along the way, we learn not only of his tortured upbringing, but of his secret malevolent dark side as well.
Primarily shot in a rich black and white made even more striking by a few strategic and effective splashes of color, “Stranger”‘s eighty-four minutes — about fifteen too long — gives the title character more than enough time to portray himself not only as a physical manifestation of random evil, but as a metaphor for every irritant, tragedy and black spot in human existence as well. After immersion in this bitterly gloomy and unrelentingly oppressive strip of bile-dipped celluloid, you’ll be inclined to agree with him…and give those bus stop dwellers a few more feet of floor space.