First, the bad news: Perfect Strangers isn’t the long-awaited big-screen version of that similarly-titled mid-80s sitcom about a wacky immigrant. Instead, it’s the story of Melanie (Rachael Blake), who lives a fairly grey life centred on her job at a New Zealand fish’n chip shop. So when a boozy pick-up night down the local pub with her mates ends with her scoring a handsome stranger (Sam Neill), it looks like she’s on to a good thing. They go back to his place (a fishing boat), she passes out, and when she wakes up he’s taken her away to a remote and deserted island. And that’s far from the last time the romantic and the creepy are mixed here. This film’s greatest asset is also it’s weakest point: it’s not afraid to take an idea and run with it. The first third of this movie looks like your usual Hollywood thriller, so it’s an enjoyable surprise when some twists takes the story to strange new places. But one person’s strange new place is another’s over-the-top mess (it could’ve been titled The Curse of Zombie Island), and here the line between the two is so fine it’s difficult to know which side this film falls on. Solid performances from Blake and Neill keep the over-the-top plot at least slightly grounded; the result is a haunting film in more ways than one.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #309)