Everyone was in full agreement with the outcome of our last Face-Off
, which had Rise of the Planet of the Apes rising over Peter Jackson's King Kong. Victory bananas to us all!
Today's Face-Off invades your home by way of THE PURGE: ANARCHY, which opened this past Friday. In honor of that brand new flick, we are throwing the first one of the series into the ring and putting it up against another creepy, claustrophobic home-invasion horror, The Strangers. So, double-bolt your doors and keep your loved ones close because it's time for some masked maniacs to come knocking!
A desolate vacation house in the country side. When the sun goes down, there's nothing but tall trees and a darkened road. It's an ideal set up for a horror home invasion. The house is a ranch which takes away the "don't run up the stairs" factor, however it also limits your options in terms of hiding places. There's also a nearby barn with a wonderful array of sharp tools to pick from.
A very large, rich home in a wealthy community on lock down because it is legal for 12 hours to kill people. That's a hell of an original set up for a home invasion horror flick. Although the home is certainly a safe and cool place to be stuck in, once the security system is breached, you are pretty f*cked because not only will people come in to try and kill you, they won't even get in trouble for it!
Scott Speedman's biggest problem at the start of the movie is trying to win Liv Tyler back. Oh, how his priorities change once those Strangers enter the house. He does an okay job of trying to protect Liv, but he's surprisingly not as tough as you'd expect. He's more into running and hiding than standing up and fighting. He even f*cks up after obtaining a shotgun. He also gets caught kind of easily at the end and is killed.
Ethan Hawke is fantastic in this flick. He's a family man whose job is to sell security to protect families. He's not a violent person, however when the shit hits the fan and his family is threatened, he stands up big time. He handles a gun well and isn't afraid to enter a knock-down, drag-out battle. He's willing to give his life for his family and ultimately does so in heroic fashion.
Liv Tyler impresses as the scream queen heroine of The Strangers. Sure, she's pretty damn scared, but she refuses to let that get in the way of her fight for survival. She runs, hides, kicks, and hits like her life depends on it (because it does). She possesses a strong spirit throughout the movie that truly compels you to root for her. She even survives the ordeal!
Lena Heady is known as a bad ass in the movie world and for good reason. Don't be fooled by her good looks. She can kick ass with the best of them and does so at the end of The Purge. She is kind of a lady in distress through most of the flick, letting her husband take care business. It is great watching her go off on all her neighbors once Ethan Hawke is out of the picture. She just takes a while.
Simplistic creepy is how I'd describe the style of The Strangers masks. The white surface and red lips of the two girl masks are a perfect contrast to the evil deeds that the ladies behind them are committing. And the guy's sack head mask is just f*cking freaky. A tad reminiscent of Jason's guise in F13th Part II made even more menacing by the two black eyes and painted-on smile.
Kudos to the grinning design developed for The Purge's attackers. The look really does resemble that of a human dredging down to the most evil and frightening of levels. The only issue I'd say is the law of diminishing returns scare-wise that happens with so many people wearing the same type of mask.
Liv Tyler is all alone in her kitchen. Scott Speedman left to check something out. She has her back to the hallway that leads to the front door. Suddenly and quietly, the male Stranger steps out from the hallway behind her and just stands there staring, waiting. There is no jump scare music beat, only silence and the scene seems to go on forever as if waiting for your heart to stop.
Despite the freaky masks, there really aren't a lot of good scares in The Purge. It makes no surprise, though, that its one best fright involves a fleeting moment with a mask. Ethan Hawke's kid is hiding underneath some sheets. The room is totally dark, but he has a flashlight. He lifts up the sheets to take a quick peek and ends up shining his flashlight directly on a guy's mask looking right at him.
Well, it looks like The Strangers purged itself of The Purge! Between you, me, and the masked stalkers outside my front door, I actually thought The Strangers was the better horror flick and wish the filmmakers would finally get moving on the planned sequel. What are your thoughts on this Face-Off's outcome? Did Liv and Scott experience the more extreme home invasion horror or did Ethan and Lena endure the worse hell? Spit them bullets down below and let me know! And feel free to send any future Face-Off ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org