The Strangers: Prey at Night

If you liked the first Strangers film (well actually you may or may not like this) and you haven’t seen a slasher horror in a while then you will probably like this.

  • Screenplay by Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) and Ben Ketai (Malevolent)
  • Directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down)
  • Starring Christina Hendricks (Drive, First Fight), Bailee Madison (Brothers),  Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy [TV]) and  Lewis Pullman (Battle of the Sexes
  • Budget of $5m

 

My initial thoughts

This film feels like a throwback to the good old school slasher horror era of the late nineties and early noughties. It is not too bad but does very little in terms of any originality and doesn’t veer away too far from a tried and tested formula used by so many films before. Ok, but not good enough.

The ‘ccc’ review

A family trip to visit relatives at their mobile home park takes an unfortunate turn when they find the whole place entirely deserted. Ignoring the eerie ness, the family settle in for the evening. That is until they hear a knock on the door. It turns out they’re not alone after all. Hiding in the shadows are three masked psychopaths with only one thing on their agenda: cold-blooded murder. Will they be able to escape from these deranged strangers? Will they think smart and not make the same mistakes so many fellow film characters have done before? – the answer to question 2 is of course not!

For those who can remember the first Strangers in 2008 (which I imagine very few will), it was a quiet box office success. With a budget of $9m, and with Liv Tyler installed as the star, it went on to make cool $82m. Although not a critical success, the film was considered to be an effective horror. This sequel has actually been 9 years in the making and draws on a few things from the first one (namely three knife-wielding masked strangers asking if Tamera is home), but based on the quality of this film we are not too surprised why a sequel didn’t get much traction for all of those years.

Bryan Bertino (the original writer and director of The Strangers) did not return to direct but did write the original screenplay for The Strangers: Prey At Night. Johannes Roberts was hired as the director, who had previous success with 47 Meters Down which went on to become the highest grossing indie film in 2016. Roberts has slowly been honing his craft in making low-budget horrors over the past 20 years and has been known to make good returns on modest film budgets. For Strangers: Prey At Night, this will be no different but the end user, the paying audience, won’t be getting a good return for their paid ticket.

The story is set early on with some attempts at character development – the daughter being sent to boarding school for her behaviour, the parents feeling like this is their last chance, visit some relatives at a scary mobile home park. As soon as they realized they are in danger the story begins to ramp up. There were not enough screams and shrills from the cinema club (a key metric in considering if the film is scary enough). We think one scream doesn’t constitute a successful horror unless the film’s purpose was to make you laugh more than scream. But as with many horror films that don’t make the grade, too many cliches are used and you will find it predictable and methodical.

All of that aside, the use of 80s music does add a cool eeriness to the film and is probably our favourite aspect of the film. Having Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart play whilst the masked strangers go to work only adds to the sense of impending doom….and we loved it!

The film cast consist of seven people, the family of four (Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison,  Martin Henderson and  Lewis Pullman) and the three masked strangers. The small cast works well for this type of film as you know the whole family will be in danger for the entirety of the film and the family do a good job of being scared and desperate. Christina Hendericks scream of “just leave us alone” is particularly memorable.

What are my final Thoughts

You will walk out of the cinema feeling no better or worse, and probably felt that it wasn’t a good use of your time. With maybe a few 80s hits stuck in your head, you will be disappointed that you didn’t get the scare workout you expected. Next time, you may reconsider opening your proverbial cinema viewing door to a bunch of strangers. Maybe you will be better off just not answering the knock on the door by Strangers 3.

📺🤦‍♀️ Wait for Strangers : Prey at Night to come knocking on your TV screens

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