An impoverished Black British woman decides to leave her dark-skinned family behind and start a new one with a white man. Will the fantasy come undone and turn to horror when Neve’s oldest kids re-enter her perfect new life?
What is the Movie The Strays About?
The Strays follows a (clearly) mentally ill woman named Cheryl who is tired of living in poverty.
Seemingly blaming her “blackness” on her situation in life, Cheryl abandons her dark-skinned black kids, changes her name, and starts a new life and family with a white man named Ian. Despite living in an upper-crust middle-class community for more than a decade and having children with her husband, “Neve” still feels like an outsider.
Through brief interactions with her neighbors and co-workers, we can ascertain that Neve “faked it” until she “made it” regarding the necessary references for her job as deputy mistress at a college. Neve also felt the need to throw a charity party for the “less fortunates” in Africa with all of her ‘white’ neighbors.
(I keep putting the colors ‘black’ and ‘white’ in quotations simply for emphasis based on the film’s narrative.)
Despite feeling like she does not belong, on the surface it doesn’t seem like Neve’s ‘white’ co-workers, neighbors, and the general townspeople in her community generally care that she is ‘black’. As she is such a fair-skinned woman, they most likely didn’t even know she was an ‘ethnic’.
Even though Neve has self-esteem and self-hatred issues, her children with white husband Ian named Sebastian and Mary don’t seem to mind. Mary can be seen looking at black hair magazines and even attempting to try out some of the hairstyles found within before her mother Neve forces her to wash them out. Sebastian enjoys listening to Lil Wayne and plays basketball on the school team.
I think this is why despite Carl and Dione being strangers to their half-siblings, Sebastian and Mary gravitated toward them. Sebastian and Mary wanted some sort of connection to their black side that they were willing to put up with the abuse and drugs Carl and Dione exposed them to out of jealousy.
What Happened at the End of The Strays?
In a shocking turn of events, Neve ultimately decides to abandon her two half-white kids Sebastian and Mary, as well. There is a moment in the chaos where Neve just quietly seems to accept the situation after Carl and Dione break into her home.
Almost as if she is playing along, Neve sits down to play Scrabble with the rest of her extended family in celebration of Dione’s birthday. From that point on, it seems like Neve had already made up her mind to abandon her ‘new’ children and start over once more.
When the Chinese food Carl ordered is delivered, Neve calmly asks Sebastian where she left her purse. With the delivery boy waiting outside and her husband Ian dead in the other room, Neve calmly apologizes to her children – softly saying “I hope you can forgive me one day” before leaving on the back of the delivery boy’s motorcycle in the middle of the night.
Despite symbolically turning off the running water from the faucet in an attempt to “stop running” from her past, Neve instead chose to create a whole new set of stray children abandoned by their mother.
Is The Strays A Horror Movie?
The British thriller The Strays is definitely a horror movie, but not in the ways most people would think.
I don’t think people realize just how many people there are in this world who think and act like Neve. Sure, maybe some people just have thoughts of wanting to abandon their family – and as Neve (rightfully) pointed out men abandon their families all the time and have new kids.
In her mind, Neve was only doing what fathers are never chastised for by society.
Coupled with the self-hatred due to her ethnicity and the rigid social class structure in the UK, Cheryl became Neve to escape what she thought was a suffocating situation.
I am in no way condoning her actions, I think people who are reviewing this film and giving it a low score might subconsciously be angry at something we all know happens, but is never talked about.
But, tell me your thoughts.
Do you agree with how Neve handled the reunion with all of her kids?
What happens now since all of the children have been abandoned?
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