This Low Budget neo-noir crime thriller involves Johnny, a hitman (Brad Rijn), whose contract hit on a gangland rival is witnessed by a three year old boy, playing in his backyard. Johnny’s initial motivation to “eliminate” the one witness to the crime (under orders of his mob boss) becomes conflicted by his growing romantic involvement with the boy’s mother, Sally (Anne Carlisle).
Fans of Larry Cohen’s often-outrageous work might be surprised by how user-friendly Perfect Stranges is. The high-concept premise of a hitman trying to seduce the mother of a child who witnessed his most recent kill would be a perfect subject for a glossy Hollywood thriller. Thankfully, Cohen’s singular style ensures that he doesn’t get bogged down in mainstream boredom: there are interesting subplots dealing with feminist politics and divorce that add some interesting themes to flesh out the premise. Cohen’s no-frills, almost documentarian directing style works wonders with his script, giving it a genuine “New York” flavor and a rawness that enhances the film’s unpredictable feel. He also pulls off a few nice suspense setpieces, the best a creepy moment that involves a swing set. In short, Perfect Strangers is one of Larry Cohen’s most underrated achievements and subtle enough to appeal to those who wouldn’t normally go for his style of filmmaking.
Subtitles:English, French, Spanish (softsubs)