Henry (Jake Milton) would rather spend his time in the limelight than enriching young minds. To that end, he plays hooky from work to go on an audition an inadvertently initiates Operation: Save Ass as a student goes hog wild shooting up the school.
Soon, ol’ Hank makes like Haley Joel circa ’99 and seeing dead folk everywhere. This leads to a bit of the soul searchin’ bag as our hero has to deal with the voices of the dead and the worth of pursuing his desires… oh, and those ghost-toasties are quite miffed because our “hero” knew the shooter was a bit “off”, but never alerted anyone. Smooth move Ex-lax.
A Stranger Among the Living is not your average ghost story boils n’ ghouls. Rather, what we get from writer/director Chris Moore is an atmospheric, Twilight Zone style slow burn (at times this works against the film as explained below) that teaches us that people can be haunted as well as places.
It’s a fun concept, not that much else in the film would at first give you hope that “fun” will be a trend. We get bleak themes a plenty (the aforementioned school shooting adding heavily to that column), and a foreboding atmosphere throughout… but Moore also manages to inject some solid humor into the proceedings creating just enough tension relief before we go back into the heaviness and supernatural shenanigans.
And said shenanigans is where this film shines. The supernatural elements are by far the most interesting element of A Stranger Among the Living, and when we have ghosts, we have everything.
Unfortunately, the plot does a deep dive into Henry’s character (read: a horror biz free chunk of time) that I’m not sure was needed (the film extends past that great ninety-minute sweet spot by nearly ten minutes). While interesting to see what makes a character tick, this slows down the pacing of the film, and the nice slow burn becomes more of a wet match… though not enough so to cancel out the positives of the flick.
That being said, A Stranger Among the Living is a successful preternatural picture that I’d have no problem recommending to you lot, especially if you want a pretty fresh take on the dead.