‘The Stranger’ and ’50 States of Fright’ Reviews: Quibi’s New Horror Offerings

The Stranger Maika Monroe
Maika Monroe in ‘The Stranger’ (Photo Credit: Quibi)

Quibi’s whole set up involves offering short bursts of entertainment to fill five to 10-minute breaks in your day. Of course, now that those of us who aren’t considered essential workers are home with gobs of free time to fill, the idea of movies/series viewed in short chapters isn’t quite as compelling as when news of Quibi first hit the internet. Still, there will come a time when the world returns to what we refer to as normal. When the order lifts and we’re released from self-isolating, delving into short quick bites of fresh entertainment will be a welcome distraction from school, work, or whatever it is that fills your day.

The subscription-based streaming platform launched on April 6, 2020, and on April 13, 2020 The Stranger and 50 States of Fright joined Quibi’s lineup. The streaming service made three chapters of The Stranger available for review along with 50 States of Fright’s three-episode “The Golden Arm” segment. Both are excellent genre fare and well worth devoting limited bits of time to delve into.

The Stranger stars Maika Monroe (The Guest, It Follows) as Clare, a small-town girl who moves to Los Angeles hoping to become a writer. With actual income from writing just a pipe dream at this point, she works for an Uber-ish company to pay the rent.

She’s not familiar with LA’s complicated geography and insane traffic but seems to enjoy getting to know her new city. That is until Dane DeHaan enters the story as Carl, a customer who sort of freaks Clare out by wanting to sit in the front seat. A lot of small talk and a little flirting leads to Clare momentarily letting her guard down. Bad decision, Clare.

She swiftly realizes she’s sitting next to a psychopath who demands she tell him a story…or die. But is he real or is this wannabe writer’s overactive imagination getting the best of her?

The Stranger’s first three episodes vary in length from six to nine minutes which is perfect for those with limited available time (or short attention spans). There’s just enough time to get satisfyingly creeped out before the chapter ends leaving you wanting more.

Written, directed, and executive produced by Veena Sud (Seven Seconds, The Killing), The Stranger is suspenseful and intense. Maika Monroe and Dane DeHaan are terrific in this swiftly paced cat and mouse thriller.

50 States of Fright
Rachel Brosnahan in ’50 States of Fright’ (Photo Credit: Quibi)

50 States of Fright has Sam Raimi as an executive producer and the first episodes have a definite Raimi vibe. 50 States of Fright looks at urban legends from around the country, with the first episode – “The Golden Arm” – examining an urban legend from Michigan.

Travis Fimmel (Vikings) stars as a lumberjack married to a gorgeous woman (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan) with champagne tastes and caviar dreams. Her hard-working hubby does his best to provide, but she’s high maintenance and addicted to shopping.

Still, their relationship’s a loving one. And, in fact, they seem to be the perfect couple despite her constant need for expensive gifts. But life comes at you fast and in the case of this couple, it came with devastating fury. She loses an arm along with her desire to live. The only solution: a golden arm. The price paid for that extravagance is horrifying.

Fimmel and Brosnahan have real chemistry as a married couple faced with a life-altering decision. Future episodes of the series will feature urban legends from states including Kansas, Oregon, and Florida, with Ming-Na Wen, Karen Allen, James Ransone, Asa Butterfield, and Greyston Holt in starring roles.