New Netflix movie The Strays just rocketed to No. 2 and has the internet shouting 'WTF?!'

L to R Ashley Madekwe, Bukky Bakray in The Strays.
(Image credit: Chris Harris/Netflix)

You may have noticed that the Netflix Original movie The Strays jumped into the Top 10 movies, as it has reached the top of the charts before slipping a rank. Now, at No. 2 in both the U.S. and the U.K. (according to FlixPatrol (opens in new tab)), this British thriller seems to be outperforming, at least when you consider the lack of promotion.

But the word of mouth for The Strays isn't exactly great. First off, The Strays is only 69% on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) (off only 13 reviews). Secondly, well, the current reactions on social media are falling somewhere between shocked and offended. What's that old phrase, any publicity is good publicity? And this is happening in a world where it feels like people are harder to surprise than ever. 

None of that, though, helps you know if you should be watching The Strays, and helping it stay afloat in the Top 10 (where it's currently behind We Have a Ghost at No. 1 and The Woman King at No. 2). And while The Strays is certainly one of the most-buzzed about ones, it doesn't have good odds of making our list of the best movies on Netflix.

So, let's break down everything you need to know about The Strays — and we're gonna warn you up front: stay away from the movie's Wikipedia page unless you want it all spoiled for you. 

What is Netflix's The Strays?

Neve (Ashley Madekwe) is a light-skinned Black woman who looks like she's living the ideal suburban life. A newcomer to her neighborhood, and one that even others refer to as a sort of outsider, Neve has a loving family — husband Ian (Justin Salinger), daughter Mary (Maria Almeida) and son Sebastian (Samuel Small) — who all fit into this world. Except Sebastian seems a little off, but what teenage boys aren't?

But then a pair of mysterious figures appear — at least to Neve. A man (Jorden Myrie) and a girl (Bukky Bakray) show up, almost haunting Neve.

They continue to appear in Neve's life, rattling her and leaving her in various increased emotional states. It all threatens to boil over, and everyone seems to be poking at Neve's identity. 

And, well, let's explain why. A spoiler warning, though, first. If you don't want to be spoiled, scroll down to "The Strays reviews."

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

The Strays controversy: Why the internet is upset

The tweets about The Strays are best represented by the three-letter acronym in this story's headline: WTF?

User @1mjustsaying (opens in new tab) tweeted "The strays on Netflix... Lol what manner of bulls**t did I watch ... The ending... WTF!" 

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User @KahLeelaBadAzz (opens in new tab) posted "Man wtf y’all on #netflix the strays need to be banned wth." And @LadyMo_Lesh (opens in new tab) wrote "The strays on @netflix creepy af."

Ashley Madekwe as Neve in The Strays

(Image credit: Chris Harris/Netflix)

User @thenickjshow_ (opens in new tab) is also a bit surprised:

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What's everybody so upset over? Well, the big reveal is that Neve left these two interlopers — named Marvin and Abigail — who are children from a previous marriage. They're here to reunite their family, or at least gain some acknowledgement about who they are.

And, in the end, I won't spoil how it all goes down, but Neve abandons more family members right before the credits roll.

As Twitter user @StevieDwayne (opens in new tab) wrote "Strays on Netflix is crazy as hell. This lady leaves her dark skin children to go off and create a better life. Now married to a light skin man with light skin children in white suburbia the dark skin children come back to haunt her. It’s definitely some Jordan Peele s**t."

The Strays reviews: what critics think

Critics, as noted above, are mixed. At The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), John Anderson wrote "Things happen much faster than a viewer is prepared for and go in more disquieting directions. He also notes The Strays "features first-rate performances by Ms. Almeida, Mr. Small, Justin Salinger as Neve’s husband, Ian, and by Bukky Bakray and Jorden Myrie, whose roles are better left unexplained. For all her co-stars’ gifts, the movie really belongs to Ms. Madekwe, upon whose eloquently expressive face Mr. Martello-White relies to carry much of his film."

Maria Almeida as Mary in The Strays

(Image credit: Chris Harris/Netflix)

At The Guardian (opens in new tab), Adrian Horton's review isn't as positive, as she notes "The Strays sets up an intriguing examination of race, privilege and the difficulty of social mobility for Black Britons but... ultimately bails.

Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy (opens in new tab) writes "You might not want them in your life, but you won't regret inviting The Strays into your Netflix list."

Outlook: Should you watch The Strays?

If you're wondering about the kind of mood that The Strays gives, let's quote Tweeter @Shawn_Carroll3 (opens in new tab), who referenced a classic Michael Jordan quote by posting "The strays on Netflix is really “f**k them kids” vibes."

The Strays, in short, is for the people who want an over-the-top thriller plot that isn't afraid of upsetting folks. If you want a movie that leaves your jaw on the floor, don't be afraid of letting The Strays in.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.