Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Horror Movie Review: The Strangers

The Strangers

Starring: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, and Laura Margolis

Directed by: Bryan Bertino

Written by: Bryan Bertino

Production Company: Rogue Pictures, Intrpid Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, and Mandate Pictures

Release Date: May 30, 2008

Home invasion scenarios may be one of the most potent of the horror genres because of the real fears into which they tap. Let's face it, there's nothing worse than not feeling safe in the one place you should feel safe: your home.

The Strangers follows James and his girlfriend Kristen together at the vacation home of his parents. In the wee hours of the morning, after a long night, comes a knock on the door.

Tentatively, they opened the door to find a young woman in the shadows asking for a person neither Kristen nor James knew. Sending the young woman on her way, the couple nervously return to their late night companionship until Kristen notices she's out of cigarettes. James, wanting a little space after his not-so-successful request for marriage, quickly runs off into the late night for her cancer sticks.

Things start turning creepy as the wandering girl returns asking for the same strange name. Kristen is unable to get the girl to leave her alone. Soon the house phone is disconnected while she speaks with James to come home, and her cell phone is dead, which she plugs in to charge. Soon we learn things clearly are even worse than they seem as items are being manipulated inside the house. The chimney flue gets closed, the smoke detector cover, dropped after it goes off because of the closed chimney flue, gets moved, and Kristen's phone disappears. When James returns, the pair struggle throughout the evening as the three attackers tease and torment the couple.
The Strangers is an atmospheric horror film keeping you on edge throughout. Part of me wants to say that the characters behaved stupidly, but I can't quite say that. It's easy sitting on my soft couch with a drink in hand to think that I would behave more logically. But how many of us have truly been scared for our lives by someone trying to scare us before killing us? I think these Monday morning survivors would probably do some of the same things. I honestly can't think of anything I can guarantee I would do differently than our victims except for the friend who shows up at the house.

If anything I didn't understand the killers who could have killed Kristen and James many times over, but instead just played games with them. It's a great film with severe tension and superb cinematography. It's really worth the viewing.

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Kip Weeks, the Man in the Mask, also starred in the thriller Fearsome. A morally bankrupt defense attorney suffers a nervous breakdown and begins to see visions of a dead client. At the same time, people associated with that case start turning up dead.

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