The Strangers drops in to DVD stores Tuesday October 21st and I am giving a copy to one lucky BNN reader! And congrats to our past BNN DVD contest winners! You could be next! (See below)
There is an art to making great horror/thriller films. Anyone can put people in a deserted camp or on a lost highway and have them try and stay a step ahead of some insane maniac with a chainsaw. We have all seen those films that are so predictable the only difference is the face behind the hockey mask. But the new film from writer/director Bryan Bertino, though not perfect or completely unique, does a nice job at creating a level of intensity and realness that makes it terrifying and creepy on a new level. It is subtle and chilling in its setup and hits home with any one who, well, is simply at home.
A young couple spending the night at a family vacation home find themselves stalked by three prowlers. Bored kids or homicidal lunatics? The chilling part of this tale is that you are not really sure. Or even more chilling is they could be a combination of both. Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) have already had a long and trying evening when a loud bang on the front door at 4 am starts a whole new level of intensity. What happens next is a fight to stay alive and elude the would-be tormentors.
Â Â This movie will make you jump and cringe and hang on the edge of your seat, or your partners arm. That in itself makes it an enjoyable thriller. Sure some of the shock is predictable and clichÈ but it still does its part. My suggestion is to watch as few trailers as possible so that you aren’t as aware of many of the fright scenes. Much of the films score comes from the old turntable and the records the couple plays while they are there. It adds a scary old school creepiness to the imagery and feel of the film. This coupled with solid acting from both Tyler and Speedman make this a better than average thriller. But then I do scare easy so I was an easy target from the start.
The decision to use masks on the assailants was a good call and Bertino says that the fact of not being able to see who your captors are gives it a new level of intensity and weirdness. And he is right. The placing of the creeps in the yard and behind trees, just standing there masked and unmoving is terrifying all on its own.
The Strangers is rated R for violence/terror and language. It is intense and at times bloody and definitely not for younger viewers. There is something to be said for the realness and unattached way the crazies in this film act that makes it even more mentally disturbing than most slasher flicks. That said, it is well done and far better than most of this genre. One reason being that we all can relate to the events and the fact that it could happen to anyone. I give The Strangers 3.5 out of 5 record needles. Just leave a light on for when you get home.
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“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts a daily online talk show along with a weekend radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”
Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.