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Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: The Strangers

After returning to a vacation home from a wedding reception, a young couple James Hoyt and Kristen McKay- who’ve just gone through their own emotional turmoil, find themselves suddenly terrorized by three unknown people (two women and one man) and must endure a horrifying evening just hoping to make it out alive.

First-time writer/director Bryan Bertino gives us a good, old fashioned creep-out with The Strangers. it’s a movie that on it’s surface might seem like it’s going to follow in the “torture-porn” (man, I hate that term) path of other popular horror films of the day, but instead at least to me seems more a bit of a throwback to something like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s filmed in a slight handheld style and setting a mood of tension right from it’s very start without necessarily relying on large amounts of blood and gore (though that’s in it too, but not say to the extent of a Saw movie) and in the end delivering some genuinely frightening moments.

Something similar came out last year in a movie called Vacancy (another genuinely entertaining horror film in it’s own right), but The Strangers veers from some of the paths that Vacancy took, primarily in giving motivations to it’s assailants.

With this being Bertino’s first effort, it’s extremely strong and very well-paced, and it certainly makes me look forward to what he’ll do next.

He’s really well aided here though with his cast. Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler play Hoyt and McKay, giving them the right depth that you need, especially considering you’re coming in on their story right in the midst of things. they’re certainly likable and sincere and you feel their horror as they endure the evening’s events.

We had a pretty decent audience with this one, especially considering how quiet in spots this movie gets, they got frightened at the right moments and certainly helped make this a good viewing experience.

If you’re a fan of horror movies and in the mood for something just a little different from the big-ass summer blockbusters, The Strangers certainly delivers the goods. Highly recommended.


New Releases For The Week Of June 2, 2008

Tuesday, June 3

Big Rig: Unrated. Life as seen from the long haul truckers perspective. From Ocule Films.

Wednesday, June 4

Dreams With Sharp Teeth: Unrated. Biopic on venerated science fiction writer Harlan Ellison. From Film Forum

The Wedding Director: Unrated. While worrying about his own daughters marriage to a catholic extremist, filmmaker Franco Elica finds himself falling for the daughter of a client who’s wedding he is filming. New Yorker Films

Operation Filmmaker: Unrated. An Iraqi film student is followed as he works on several big budget Hollywood films and on sets throughout the world. From First Run/ Icarus Films

Friday, June 6

Kung Fu Panda: PG. A clumsy panda is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and fight beside his martial arts idols. From DreamWorks Animation

Mongol: R. The early life of former slave turned world conqueror Genghis Khan. From Picturehouse

Don’t Mess With Zohan: PG-13. A former Mossad agent fakes his own death and becomes a hair stylist. His old life however soon catches up to him. From Columbia Pictures

Mother Of Tears: Unrated. An ancient urn is unearthed in Rome. Inside are artifacts that belonged to the only survivor of the Three Mothers, powerful witches who for aeons spread death and destruction throughout the city. From Medusa Film

When Did You Last See Your Father?: PG-13. A raw look at how a man comes to terms with his father’s terminal illness and the rocky and conflicted relationship between the two. From Sony Pictures Classics

Mister Foe: Unrated. The story of a teenager who lives in the rooftops of Edinburgh with his step-mother who has seduced him and, he believes, may have murdered his mother. From Magnolia Pictures

The Time Traveler’s Wife: Unrated. From the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, a man and his wife try to come to terms with his uncontrollable and unpredictable jumps in time. From New Line Cinema.

Miss Conception: R. A young London professional with only one month left to concieve a child seeks the perfect father for her child. From Blue Angels Films.

The Promotion: R. Grocery managers fight for a promotion. From Dimension Films.

On The Rumba River: Unrated. The story of Congolese Rumba superstar Wendo and his struggle against the church and colonial authorities. From First Run Features.

The Go-Getter: Unrated. After the death of his mother, a teen steals a car and goes on a road trip to find his brother. From Peace Arch Entertainment.