If there ever were a psychological thriller, the new movie The Little Stranger is it. The movie, which comes out on Aug. 31, takes place in 1940s England at an aristocratic family's mansion. After World War II ends and the matriarch's son, Roddy (Will Poulter), comes back from the war with PTSD, relationships becomes strained. Up until this point, it might sound like The Little Stranger is a true story, but things soon get weird; the decrepit mansion appears to be haunted, and a doctor, Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) bears witness to it all.
The gothic ghost movie is based on a novel of the same title which author Sarah Waters published in 2009, and while the story is fictional, it will still creep you out to the max. Part of the effect of the movie comes from the fact that you can't tell who in the family has actually seen or heard ghosts and who has psychological issues that could cause you to question their trustworthiness.
While Dr. Faraday originally goes to the estate to care for Roddy, the patient's adult sister, Caroline (Ruth Wilson), also finds herself haunted by the perceived ghost in Hundreds Hall. Throughout the whole film, though, you can't really tell if the house is actually haunted or not. As a title card that reads "Question everything" from The Little Stranger's trailer suggests, viewers won't totally know who to trust while watching the movie.
In an interview with BBC, Wilson explained how everyone might relate to the ambiguity of the film. She said, on the mystery of whether the a ghost haunts the house or not, "It's up to the audience to decide." Then, she added, "But there's a supernatural element. I think it's more psychological, I think it's more demons inside of you [that] create sort of energies. And if you suppress the things inside you, the needs and the desires, then they might come out in violent ways."
Just by taking a look at the trailer, you can tell that The Little Stranger includes a violent fit or two, but it makes more sense once you learn that the family living in Hundreds Hall never dealt with their trauma over losing a child named Susan. The memory of Susan haunts the home, but the movie doesn't just focus on the theme of how grief can affect people's perceptions of reality. It also tells the story of how rejected Dr. Faraday feels, and how social class can isolate people.
After Wilson spoke to BBC about her favorite elements of the move, Gleeson said in the same interview, "I think it deals with class in a very brilliant way, and I think for Faraday, my character, what he understands is that what he wants may not be good for him. He wants to be of the people and of the house." While Dr. Faraday wishes to gain acceptance by the upper-class members at Hundreds Hall, the movie's series of events will remind you again of the age-old saying, be careful what you wish for.