Netflix’s The Strays: Is the Horror Film Based on a True Story?

Netflix’s ‘The Strays’ is the debut feature film of director Nathaniel Martello-White. The horror thriller film stars Ashley Madekwe (‘The Umbrella Academy‘) as Neve, a biracial woman living a picture-perfect life in a predominantly White British suburb. However, when two mysterious strangers suddenly start appearing in her life, Neve is forced to question her sanity and confront her past. The film creates a tense atmosphere and keeps the viewers pinned to their seats with its compelling plot. However, it also tackles several themes, such as classism, internalized racism, and the struggles of the working class. Therefore, viewers must be curious to learn more about its inspiration. If you are wondering whether ‘The Strays’ is inspired by a true story, here is everything you need to know!

The Strays is an Original Screenplay

‘The Strays’ is based on an original concept by writer-director Nathaniel Martello-White. Martello-White began his career as an actor and is known for appearing in shows such as ‘Collateral,’ ‘Deceit,’ and ‘Misfits.’ He is also an established screenwriter, having worked on projects such as ‘Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle’ and ‘Unprecedented: Real-Time Theatre from a State of Isolation.’ However, ‘The Strays’ marks Martello-White’s first foray into feature film direction.

In an interview with Radio Times, Martello-White opened up about the inspiration behind the film. He explained that the idea originated from a real-life story. Martello-White’s mother told him about a biracial woman who had eloped from her previous marriage to start a new life. “(She also) had two children, who were very fair-skinned and almost white-passing, and this woman was biracial,” he said during the interview. The story stuck with Martello-White, who was enticed by the complexities of the woman’s journey and her efforts to deny or erase her past. The movie represents these complexities through Neve, who abandons her two children to start a new life.

While exploring ideas for his first feature film, Martello-White felt he should tackle a personal story. “And 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,” he said in the same interview. As a result, Martello-White wrote the film’s screenplay based on the story he had heard from his mother. However, Martello-White also drew from his mother’s experiences as a biracial woman.

Unlike most depictions of women of color, Martello-White decided to craft the story around a controversial character who would create a divisive opinion among viewers. As a result, he faced challenges while trying to humanize the character of Neve when developing the screenplay. The film’s horror setting and tackling of themes such as racial discrimination echo the vibes of Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out.’ While Martello-White admitted the film’s impact on his debut feature film, he also cited movies such as ‘Funny Games,’ ’A History of Violence,’ and ‘Hidden’ as influences.

Ultimately, ‘The Strays’ is not based on a true story. The film’s concept is devised from a true story, but the narrative itself is rooted in fiction. The film explores generational trauma stemming from racism through a woman’s attempt to erase her past. However, using a divisive protagonist adds layers of moral complexities to the fictional narrative allowing viewers to formulate their own take on the film’s depiction of sensitive themes. Therefore, despite being a fictional story set in a heightened reality, the subject material of the movie holds emotional appeal and cultural relevance for the viewers.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s The Strays Filmed?