Director: Bryan Bertino
Cast: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman
The Strangers is Bryan Bertino’s directing debut and based on this offering, a long and successful career awaits him. If by “long and successful”, you mean “churn out second-rate horror films that offer little to the viewing public but a few minor chills and a storyline that only narrowly avoids the realms of nonsense”.
Ok, that’s a bit mean. The Strangers is built on an intriguing premise. Kristen (Tyler) and James (Speedman), a twenty-something couple, return home from a party and start to unwind after what has been a particularly miserable evening – it seems she just turned down his marriage proposal. There’s a knock at the door (a particularly uninteresting occurrence, until you remember that they live, of course, in the middle of the woods with no neighbours for miles). And so begins their torment by a trio of masked strangers, who will seemingly stop at nothing to kill the couple. Who are they? Nobody knows. Why are they doing all this? Nobody cares – by the time the action begins, you just want them to die so you can leave.
Up until the baddies really begin to have their fun, Bertino does a good job of racking up the suspense, culminating in the first glimpse of The Man in the Mask silently watching Kristen smoke from the dark recesses of the hallway. After that, the film follows the usual circular slasher path (scream, run, hide, get discovered, repeat) until the climax, which offers nothing in the way of explanation – unless the killers all have horrific cases of acne and are taking it out on the world of beautiful people.
None of this is ground-breaking, but the ability of the killers to appear and disappear as they please is what really kills the tension.
There are other problems too. First, it is important to note that it is not based on real life events, as is mentioned at the beginning – this is a lie, like “Yeah, you look great in that outfit”. There are some serious editing problems too: a phone call to the police from a panicked woman at the very beginning of the film goes unexplained, and the couple’s back-story, which looks like it might be told through flashbacks, is dropped after the first one. The final words of the killers – “It’ll be easier next time” – suggests a sequel, but The Strangers need to rethink their plans before they strike again.
Originally published on i-Flicks.net.