Plot: Paul (Timothy Busfield) and his wife Lindsey (Kathleen Quinlan) have made some big changes in their lives of late, opting to leave the busting city scape behind in favor of a more serene locale. The two made the decision that a more rural, slower pace would be the best environment to raise their daughter, so the couple purchased a home in a remote stretch of countryside. While the two are excited about the fresh start, they’re unaware that the previous owner died under not only mysterious circumstances, but downright bizarre circumstances. As it turns out, while the house rests in a secluded location, the family isn’t alone and all around the idyllic patch of paradise, hordes of feral cats lurk in the darkness. While the family settles in, the cats begin a reign of terror that starts off with a visit from a single feline, followed by swarms of aggressive, eerie cats that seem intent to terrorize all in their path. Can Paul protect his family or will the feline assault prove to be too much to handle?
Entertainment Value: The premise of Strays sounds bad ass, as a family battles a militia of sadistic, feral cats, but this made for television production fails to live up to the concept and we’re left with a mediocre experience instead. The narrative is solid and has all the right openings for chaos and madness with the cats, but again, the movie is just way too restrained. This could be because of the made for television roots, as there’s little violence or over the top craziness, both elements that are much needed in a tale about murderous feral cats. The movie is able to deliver some moments of hope, such as the horde of cats around the crib at one point, but those instances are few and far between, sadly. Instead of putting the feline menace as the focus, Strays opts to lean on dialogue driven scenes about mild family drama. Why a movie about killer cats needs so much bland, forgettable dialogue I don’t know, but less generic talking and more wild cats would have worked wonders here. The pace is quite slow, spiked here and there by the cat appearances, but I was bored more often than not here, which is not how a when animals attack picture should go. I suppose for cat horror enthusiasts, Strays is worth a peek, but otherwise, it is hard to recommend.
The cast of Strays is fine, as far as made for tv movies are concerned, even if no one stands out as memorable. I don’t have any real issues with Timothy Busfield as a performer, but I don’t think he is an effective lead in most cases and here, he is just passable at best. His performance is fairly generic and while he isn’t given much in terms of colorful touches or depth to work with, I think other actors could have pulled a little more out of this role. He covers the basics and is by no means, he just doesn’t leave much of an impression. I think he just read the words on the page and that’s about it, he doesn’t seem invested or interested, just going through the motions. Kathleen Quinlan fares a little better at least, as she puts some energy into the character at times, as opposed to Busfield’s minimal effort. Again she doesn’t have the best material to lean on, but she makes it work better than it should in some scenes, which elevates the movie and makes things a bit better. Not an overly memorable or all that impressive turn, but she at least makes a noble try, right? The cast also includes William Boyett, Claudia Christian, and Eve Brenner.