A new psychological horror film, The Strays, has just been released on Netflix, the feature directorial debut from Nathaniel Martello-White.
It follows Ashley Madekwe’s Neve, a woman living an idyllic suburban life with her husband and children. As the deputy head teacher at a private school, Neve has her life together – that’s until two mysterious figures begin following her, leading her to believe she is being stalked. As the film progresses, truths are revealed, and Neve’s life dramatically falls apart.
Martello-White plays around with the tone, although its use of horror has been compared to stellar works from the genre, such as Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Jordan Peele’s Get Out. When the director was participating in the BFI Network program alongside the London Film Festival and Black Star, he got thinking about his first feature film.
He told the Radio Times, “I sort of came away from that experience being like, it had to be something really personal that sort of explored race in a really complex way but also have a genre element to it that kind of made it more universal and far-reaching.”
However, he also shared the true story that inspired his film, which his mother told him. “[It] was about a woman who essentially was denying the fact that she had two Black children.” He explained that the woman “had two children, who were very fair-skinned and almost white-passing, and this woman was biracial. And I was just really struck by the kind of complexities of that, like, what would make somebody feel like they had to erase their past and deny it?”
“I had a really interesting conversation with my mum about generational trauma – she’s also biracial – and she was sort of talking to me about her experiences as a biracial woman and kind of traversing different cultures and classes and sometimes being perceived as almost white and kind of how people would treat her,” he continued. “And then the odd sort of slip, and then there’s a microaggression or something, which actually is quite offensive, or quite shocking.”
Watch the trailer below.