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.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

01. June 2008 by Darren Goodhart
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