17 Oct 2013

[HORROR OF HALLOWEEN] The Strangers (2008)

Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer: Bryan Bertino
Stars: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward
Running Time: 86 mins
Sub-Genre: Home-Invasion, Slasher, Thriller
Release: May 2008

After returning from a wedding reception, a couple staying in an isolated vacation house receive a knock on the door in the mid-hours of the night. What ensues is a violent invasion by three strangers, their faces hidden behind masks. The couple find themselves in a violent struggle, in which they go beyond what either of them thought capable in order to survive.

The Strangers, 2008's most famous horror films directed by Bryan Bertino was one of my favourite horror's of that year (at the time), but after DVD release and after watching it many times, the impact that it first left decreases by a large amount, and what seemed to be "Amazing" back when released is now merely just a mediocre home-invasion slasher with a few decent scares and some creepy doll masks.

After the whole "Based on True Events" milarky, we follow the story of Kristen and James, a couple that are trying to mend the broken link after she denies James' proposal causing it to fail on many levels. When left alone Kristen answers the door to a quiet knock, to a shaded woman who she rejects. She knocks again, and again, and soon Kristen finds out that she is being terrorized by a group of masked killers who have a worse motive than Smiley's "I did it for the Lol'z".

Defiantly a Halloween treat for sure, The Strangers proves to be a neatly scary ride, and although it's lack of originality can be off-putting it still makes for a spooky night in on those damp and dark October days. More  of a crowd-pleaser than a horror addicts film, The Strangers builds too many cliches to satisfy those who have seen one to many movies, but those who decide to stick on a horror instead of a rom-com when the relationship buddy is over should have a blast.

When first watching The Strangers I absolutely loved it, but as I got older and a lot wiser in terms of horror films, and after the 8th watch I realized just how weak The Strangers actually is, and although it benefits from some haunting moments it suffers from a stale display on a dead-end root. Despite its poor approach to the home-invasion sub-genre I still think it's a good horror in the end up, and having a mindless approach to it only enhances its effect. It's good, but standing against Last House on the Left, Inside, Them (Ill) and even You're Next, it looks weak.

Not as scary as it perhaps could have been, it still manages to jolt the sub-genre with some fresh energy, and in a sub-genre almost derived with scares it's good to see a horror of this caliber do something different, and adding that intense foreboding mood only enhances the effectiveness of the overall product. The strongest aspect of the film aside from Tyler and Speedman's performances is the chilling trio that are the strangers, that combine their memorably haunting look with their savage mannerisms to create one of the most memorable villains in horror history.

VERDICT: The Strangers may be a tedious and unoriginal movie experience, but it's also scary, to an extent were you dread the masked villains and make sure all doors and windows are locked before going to bed. Take note - Don't answer the door if someone knocks past midnight, Rule no.1 of horror survival school.

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