“Old Strangers,” a thriller awkwardly resembling a “creature feature,” and even more awkwardly labeled a “thriller,” falls somewhere on the student film/relatives-wrote-me-checks-so’s-I-could-make-a-movie spectrum of ineptitude.
The fact that it’s listed as the third film, stretching back over 15 years, of writer, director and producer Nick Gregorio, just doubles down on disheartening. It’s not scary. It’s poorly-acted. There are no-budget-film continuity blunders. Why-oh-why was this picked up for release?
It’s about three college pals — Ted Evans, Madeleine Humphries and Colton Eschief Mastro — who celebrate the end of quarantine by meeting up at a cabin at Big Bear Lake, the over-filmed mountain forestland well inland from LA.
Mikey (Evans) is “kind of more of an IN-doorsman,” Sarah (Humphries) has an Only Fans page devoted to people willing to pay to see her feet and Danny (Mastro) is the one who allegedly has outdoor skills.
They fill the quiet forest with blithering banter, hike in the few spots that show any hint of snow (a radio ski report underscores the drive up) and stumble into what they take to be “insect” eggs, or “somebody’s art project.
It isn’t. Somebody gets stung. And not heeding the plea “Don’t TOUCH it” means “If this is a horror movie, YOU’RE dying first.”
“I think my favorite moments are when we get a tiny taste of effects “explaining” where these “eggs” came from, and a moment when Sarah (Humphries) scrunches up her eyes to concentrate ever-so-hard so that she can remember every “clue” from the scattered (flashback) bits of foreshadowing so that she can understand it all.
Bless her heart.
Rating: unrated, graphic violence, profanity
Cast: Ted Evans, Madeleine Humphries and Colton Eschief Mastro.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Nick Gregorio. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:02