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The Strangers (Unrated)
DVD disk
11.04.2008 By: Jason Adams
The Strangers (Unrated) order
Director:
Brian Bertino

Actors:
Liv Tyler
Scott Speedman
Glenn Howerton

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A couple struggles to survive after three random strangers unexpectedly invade their home.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
You may be thinking that there must be more to the premise of THE STRANGERS than the above logline, but I assure you, that’s pretty much the entire movie. It’s short, simple and to the point. And that point is to terrify the audience. Taking a page from the playbook that nothing is scarier than the unknown, the film doesn’t bother with too much set up. It introduces the characters, gives us a slight relationship dynamic to cling on to, and then tortures the hell out of them (and us) psychologically, emotionally and physically for the next hour or so.

What I liked about THE STRANGERS is that it felt very old school in its style and methods, but very modern in how aggressive it is as a film. I dug the reliance on silence and sound to create atmosphere and tension, as well as the simple “everyday” setting and effective shadowy cinematography to drive it home. (The creepy killer masks didn’t hurt either.) However, once things start kicking in it’s really in-your-face intense—disturbing and uncomfortable to watch without resorting to extreme gore, save for one or two effective instances. Fist time director Brian Bertino is confident and skilled in his debut, but the entire thing really hinges on the actors, who don’t let us down. Scott Speedman is the token male hero character, but Liv Tyler is equally strong, even if she spends the majority of her screen time screaming. There might be some cliché horror movie behavior every now and then, but overall I had no problem connecting to these characters.

In some ways, the movie is almost too much; with so much unrelenting suspense and terror, the entire thing gets numbed to your senses after a while. The flick is already under 90 minutes, but it definitely doesn’t feel short. (I don’t know if that says a good thing for the film or not.) There isn’t much of a story, nor does it win points for originality, but THE STRANGERS is more than effective at actually being scary, which is a hell of a lot more than 90% of the horror movies released today.
THE EXTRAS
The disc boasts both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. There’s barely two minutes of difference between them, so the “two movies in one” claim on the cover is bogus. As far as what’s new, the only difference I noticed was a little bit extra at the very end (including the shot that was used as the film’s poster), but no major changes or plot differences.

Deleted Scenes (4:57): Two short scenes with more of the romance-drama stuff that was already well-covered in the film.

The Elements of Terror (9:13): A look at the production design, sound editing and acting, and how important reacting to the environment was to creating that scary atmosphere.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Whether or not THE STRANGERS is a great movie is up for argument, but it definitely accomplishes what it sets out to do—terrify and disturb its audience. If you like to be scared, it’s worth checking out. However, if you were looking for a gorier, different cut of the film in this Unrated Edition, or for a wealth of extras, you’re bound for disappointment.

Extra Tidbit: Yes, that is Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” in a quick appearance.
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