Is Netflix ‘The Stranger’ Based On A True Story? How Did The Movie Narrate Australia’s Biggest Abduction Case?

“The Stranger” on Netflix is a 2022 psychological thriller that will keep one hooked till the very end. The movie has captured the essence of terror with its thematic elements. Moreover, this movie is adapted from the popular book “The Sting: The Undercover Operation That Caught Daniel Morcombe’s Killer” by Kate Kyriacou. The news of Daniel’s abduction spread like wildfire around the world, and shocking details were revealed once the officials were involved in this case. This case required a comprehensive investigation where without a trace, Daniel was kidnapped by two men. The trio disappeared without a single clue, and even witnesses couldn’t determine their statements. As his abduction was very sudden, none of them could make out if the two men really kidnapped him or not. Daniel was abducted in December 2003, and the case was extended for up to eight years. His remains were finally found in the year 2011 with an official confession from Brett Peter Cowan. Brett was previously convicted of two sexual harassment cases and had a pedophilic history as well. An undercover sting operation called “Mr. Big” was conducted to earn Brett’s trust. Higher officials from the team pretended to be a corrupt gang of criminals, and this led them to the confession of Brett’s hideous crime.


The names of the perpetrators and victims were changed in the film to avoid controversy, but it still sparked the sentiments of several individuals around the world, as well as the Morcombe family. They wanted their child’s experience to teach lessons to all the other families out there, but they never had any intention of making a movie out of Daniel’s life.’ The Stranger’ covered all the aspects of the sting operation, which helped the officials unravel the greatest crime in the history of Australia. At the beginning of “The Stranger,” we are introduced to the characters of Paul and Henry. They have conversations with each other, and amidst all this, Henry becomes aware of Paul’s criminal history. Apart from his convictions, Paul shared interesting stories about his life too.

Paul also opened up about his convictions in Queensland and won Henry’s trust. With time, the two became good friends, and Paul decided to include him in Mark’s gang, assuring him of a reliable job. Here, Mark is an undercover cop from the Undercover Crimes Unit, pretending to be involved in criminal and illegal activities, but Henry refuses to be involved in any illegal acts. The following day, Henry met Mark, and they discussed the rules and regulations of their work. Well, Paul was ready to move out of Australia, and Mark’s group specialized in relocating and erasing the histories of the people who worked under them. Henry was delighted to know about this revelation since it could be beneficial for him as well.


At first, Henry was skeptical about this job, but their working patterns attracted him to the gang. The gang members helped Paul with all the necessary documents required for his safe departure from Australia, and this became a huge green flag for Henry. As time passed on, Henry began dealing drugs with Mark and spent the whole day with him. All this time, Mark was waiting for him to confess his crimes, but Henry was a tough one to deal with. Even, in reality, the officers that worked on this case had to undergo immense pressure, and this affected their mental and physical health. They had to keep up with his lies and pretend to be his friend. No matter what, Mark often protected his son and secured him from everyone since he was dealing with a pedophile, and having a young child worried him. 

Mark figured out new details about Henry while he lied about his past several times. But soon, Henry began to trust him completely and often shared the sexual offenses that he had committed in the past. But that wasn’t enough; Mark had to get a confession from Henry since the cops couldn’t find a single clue or evidence against him. Even the forensics couldn’t find a single fingerprint of the child whom he had abducted. The final thirty minutes of the movie display a change in Henry’s behavior since he gets to know about a new inquest passed on by the Queensland Coroners Court. Mark confronts him about the situation, hoping he will confess to his crimes. The criminal organization began forcing him to confess his crimes, and out of pressure, Henry ended up confessing that he had killed the boy.


According to his side of the story, Henry spotted James near the underpass and pulled over to his car to chat with him for a while and talked him into the car. Henry killed the little boy and discarded his clothes down the creek while covering his body with twigs and grass. Henry took Mark and his subordinate to the area where he had discarded his remains, and through an extensive search, the bones of James were found. The body was found in the Queensland Floodplain, and flooding over the past few years removed all the remaining evidence. After eight years, Henry Teague was finally charged with the murder of James Liston.

The Stranger” on Netflix is a 2022 psychological thriller directed by Thomas M. Wright.

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Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya is a Mass Media graduate and she is currently working and living in Mumbai. From a very young age, Raschi was heavily interested in reading and writing. She prefers to write everything that her mind nurtures her to do as shaping up her imagination is her forte!

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