Director Fred Walton sets the audience up early for a 20-minute reign of terror and gracefully shocks them out of their seats in a final blitz. But he packs the middle with drawn-out dialogue and mindless series of chases and escapes that do little more tan pad the feature film into feature length. [19 Oct 1979, p.31]
The first part of this film is an exceedingly taut little chiller that stands on its own, and in fact was once a short film entitled The Sitter. Director Fred Walton decided to expand the clever premise into a feature and, unfortunately, that is where the film begins to fall apart.
Fred Walton, who directed Stranger, seems more skillful at orchestrating creepy atmospherics than John Carpenter was in Halloween. At the same time, he's scarcely clever or stylish enough to make Stranger a thriller worth going out of your way for. [20 Oct 1979, p.F6]
This stab at the soft underbelly of American middle class paranoia looks increasingly contrived once the film loses direction in the daylight outside, and a realism intrudes that the film-makers just don't know how to handle.