Rated: R for violence, terror and language.
Release Date: 2008-05-30
Starring: Bryan Bertino
Official Website: http://www.thestrangersmovie.com/
The Strangers is a chilling horror film about a home invasion. This movie doesn’t break any new ground on a plot level, but its interesting cinematography suffuses the production with an overpowering combination of paranoia and claustrophobia. This is one of those rare horror movies that concentrates on suspense and terror rather than on gore and a high body count. By keeping the premise simple and making the small group of characters seem like genuine human beings, Bertino sets the audience up for a tense and uneasy 85 minutes.
It’s 4:00 am when Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) arrive at his cabin in the woods. It has not been a good night for them – Kristen turned down his wedding proposal – but it’s about to get much worse. As they’re preparing for bed and trying to figure out how to bridge the gulf that has suddenly opened between them, there’s a knock at the door. This is the first of many such interruptions of the still night, and it isn’t long before harassment develops into something darker and more dangerous. The woods, normally empty and serene, now hold the promise of terror and death.
The Strangers (there are three of them) wear masks. They are simple masks but, as we know from the lesson taught by Michael Myers, even a blank white covering of the face can be terrifying in certain circumstances.
The Strangers is not a perfect motion picture, but it’s one of the horror genre’s rare recent standouts. The melodrama at the beginning is weak, failing to connect us to the characters to the degree Bertino intends, and the final shot is a bit of a cheat.
The Strangers is so effectively produced that if you arrive home after a night showing to find the electricity off, you will have misgivings about going inside. Horror movies come in two categories: those that deal in supernatural creatures and those that have their roots in very real dangers. The escapism that often categorizes and distances viewers in the former is absent in productions like this. There’s pain and blood in The Strangers, but the movie is more about psychological torture than the physical variety. It’s intense but not necessarily fun and may disappoint less sophisticated horror fans. However, for die-hard supporters of unsettling peeks into the dark side of human nature, this is a welcome excursion.