“The Strangers” was released in 2008. (same year Dead Space came out) It received mixed reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Despite divisive reactions, the film managed to become a sleeper hit at the box office and eventually garnered a cult following. A sequel titled, “The Strangers: Prey At Night” came out in 2018.
Now that Halloween Month is around the corner. I wanna share my thoughts on this misunderstood gem before Michael Myers returns in the upcoming “Halloween Kills.” What do The Strangers & Michael Myers have in common. They’re masked psychopathic serial killers who stalk their prey. By the way, I’ll be selecting specific horror movies during October.
This review contains no SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article. I’ll have you know my review is a short one. This ain’t a complex psychological thriller like “Memento.” Just a simplistic an hour and a half horror thriller. So bear with me.
Merciful & Merciless Qualities
Merciful: Liv Tyler did a decent job for her performance.
Bryan Bertino did an awesome job writing the script and directing the film.
Fun Fact: Kurt Russell mentioned The Strangers always gives him the heebie jeebies. Oh the irony. Kurt fought the monster from John Carpenter’s “The Thing” yet he’s scared of three masked murderers. Don’t believe me? Look up his interview with James Corden.
Scare Factor has an effective atmosphere for a couple being stalked by home invaders. Makes you feel like you’re caught in the middle of a predicament. I made my mom watched The Strangers. She got scared screaming at the top of her lungs. It didn’t give me the heebie jeebies. I was laughing at her. My mom’s screaming inadvertently scared the family pet. One more thing, my mom yelled at the TV like Jamie Kennedy in “Malibu’s Most Wanted.” You know that one scene with B-Rad yelling at the screen while watching a horror movie?
Before the film begins, a disclaimer shows us the story is inspired by true events. Bryan confirmed the story is loosely based on The Manson Family, Sharon Tate’s tragic death and the book, “Helter Skelter.” Like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” The Strangers is a work of fiction borrowing true events.
Practical Effects were heavily used to create crushing blows.
Lighting uses dark shadows and barely enough light setting a bone chilling mood.
The man wearing a sack for a mask reminds me of Scarecrow from “The Dark Knight Trilogy.”
The man in a sack uses an axe to cut his way though the front door, is a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
The masked murderers represent fear and terror.
Without giving too much away, The Ending is unpredictable.
Merciless: Cinematography succumbs to Shaky Cam. Who’s in charge of filming Sonic The Hedgehog drinking too much Monster Energy?
At first, Kristen & James were an interesting couple. When the masked killers arrive, they act like incompetent morons never calling the cops. Nobody does that in real life. Green Arrow & Black Canary are smarter than the those nincompoops. If they watch this movie, I can imagine them laughing how stupid Kristen & James lack safety precautions.
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BRILLIANT!
Despite two flaws, The Strangers is a misunderstood horror thriller. When I first saw it, I liked it. Upon rewatching, I still do. If you’re in the mood to get your scare on, I highly recommend this underrated gem.