“We are the Strange” is one of those films that defies any kind of proper criticism because it doesn’t quite co-exist with anything else in the vast realm of cinema. It’s so much its own thing that I am truly at a loss for words, not only to describe it but also to offer either approval or condemnation. How can I possibly say this film is good when I’m not even sure what the hell I watched? And furthermore how can I say it’s bad? It’s like trying to hold onto a handful of water. Just when you think you may have it, everything slips between your fingers and it’s gone.
Still, I’ve got to try. So let’s start with the basics: Story.
There IS a story, but it’s as if it was written by aliens from another planet that have no grasp of human motivation or logic. It’s about a little boy called eMMM who lives in the Forest of Still Life and yearns for ice cream, his every thought obsessed by it. Meanwhile, a woman called Blue has a terrible disease which makes her skin turn lizard-like whenever she speaks or smiles and is cast out of the strip club where she works by the cruel owner. Returning to the Forest of Still Life where she was born, she meets up with eMMM who convinces her to accompany him to Stopmo city so he can get his beloved ice cream.
However, monstrous evil is afoot in the city, personified by a ghostly videogame called SinisteRRR, which appears like an omen of doom before something horrible happens. Trapped between battling Monsters and an insane hero called Rain, whose body can change into anything, both Blue and eMMM have to fight their way out of this mess. Umm… I… think? To be terribly honest, I can’t be sure that everything I’ve described above is entirely correct. Try to write down “Eraserhead’s” “story” and you’ll see my dilemma.
With story out of the way though, this brings us to the visuals. And on this point Strange easily deserves all the praise you can throw at it. There’s a vast attention to detail and refinement present. Director M Dot Strange has been working on this thing for years and it shows. This wasn’t slapped together in two minutes. It’s easy for a reviewer to say that a movie is a “visual feast for the eyes” but in this case it’s absolutely true. Not only that but it looks like NOTHING you’ve ever seen. This is virgin cinematic territory as far as I can tell.
Still, it has two problems. One, for all its ADHD hyperkinetic moments, it’s a fairly slow film at times. Two, the plot twists itself around into a pretzel and loses you every couple of minutes. Ever been told a story by an excitable little kid? Same thing: “And then the goblins attacked! And then I ran! And then these beams of light melted them! And then I took a nap! And then Santa Claus came!!!” Just when you think you understand what the bloody hell is going on, the rug’s pulled out from under your feet and you go flying. It does this one too many times in my opinion.
However, what’s interesting isn’t how odd the film is, but how it still accomplishes its job anyway. You do feel for poor Blue who can’t smile or feel joy anymore lest she become ugly, and the apparitions of the sinisteRRR video game are genuinely spooky. The plot may be bouncing in every direction like a Wham-O! SuperBall thrown by an insane midget on Crystal Meth and the story may be a bit hard to decipher from all the weirdness; but this is still a proper film. This isn’t a compilation of bizarre scenes strung together with pretty visuals.
So I’ll say this, if you’re reading Film Threat it’s because you’re a fan of cinema that doesn’t quite follow the rules. Strange embodies this completely. Maybe you’ll hate it. Maybe you’ll be bored. Maybe it just won’t be your thing, I’m still not sure that it was mine, but you’ll never ever regret having seen it.