ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

001689
Search by title # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The Strangers (2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Bryan Bertino

Starring:
Scott Speedman/James
Liv Tyler/Kristen
PLOT-CRUNCH
James and Kristen (yes… she’s his girl) hit an isolated summer home for some romantic RnR and wind up being terrorized by three masked loons who have “kill” on the fritz.
THE LOWDOWN

Because you were home. - A stranger

Before I begin my review of the THE STRANGERS, I’d like to give the Studio behind it (Universal that is) a standing-o for their razor sharp marketing of the picture. The teaser trailer had to be creepiest I had seen in a while and what followed in terms of promo hit the spot as well. Now, I caught the film late, hence got wind of the negative joo-joo that spilled out about it before my screening. Yes, it got me a tad nervous since I was really looking forward to this one. But now that I’ve seen this lean and mean machine, I feel relieved. Although not the masterpiece I was hoping for, I still had a seat chewing good time at the movies with it!

THE STRANGERS started off on the right kitchen knife stab, giving us two ordinary folks and a situation we can pretty much all relate to and then it pulled the safety net from under them and us to go buck wild with the horror. And it worked on my sorry ass. The somber cinematography set the mood, the anxiety laced build-up as to the outside threat gave me the willies (awesome use of the mundane and sound to scare us here). And once it was clear what the motive (or lack of) was as  the flick went into full blown, extended, stalk sequence mode; they had me firmly by the jewels and didn't let me go till the end. In fact, my stones are still sore and bruised as I write this!

Props to first time director Bryan Bertino for having me wiggling in my seat like a schoolgirl about to get her first case of “the curse”. Man I was feeling it! The pacing was unapologetically furious while the suspense charged set pieces were ably structured and executed resulting in maximum pummeling on yours truly. And the fact that I kept thinking: “this is the kind of movie that would have no problem killing off its lead characters” upped my involvement in the knife happy shenanigans two fold! I cared for these people, I was frightened for them and I wanted them to live dammit! Add to that a sly use of music (dug them old ditties) that amplified the film's uneasy vibe, a refreshingly simple M.O. as to its storyline, an effective play on the “a white mask peering out of the darkness is spooky” device (thank John Carpenter for that one) and an uppercut ending that sent me to the mat crying for my mommy, and you got a simple (and dare I say "pure") hour and ten minutes of white knuckle - through the nihilistic ringer - fun!

On the flipside, it served THE STRANGERS well that its clock time was short and that it unraveled so quickly. That way, it was mostly by looking back that I picked up on the “dumb actions to serve the plot” executed by our heroes (Use that shotgun bro...come on!). And was I the only one that craved more Scott Speedman in the mix? I love the dude, l boogied to his character and when he vanished from the film for a while; I felt it. Finally the flick telegraphed a couple of its moves, hence making them quite predictable as to when they were coming up and what the outcome would be. In my book, if you're gonna embrace convention, at least go against the grain with your pay-off to back- hand your audience. Don’t do the same same old-same old, it weakens the knees! The Strangers was guilty of that a couple of times.

Overall though, I came out of THE STRANGERS a satisfied horror fan! The film wasn't perfect but it had its dead beat, f*ck you heart in the right place, sported mad skills behind and in front of the camera and when it was on the ball, it was on the MOTHERF*CKING BALL! I'll take that over some teeny bop, remake crap any day! Now lets slip on some masks and lets go whack my creditors - why? Because they were home! THAT'S WHY!

GORE
We get a shot-gunned face and some stabbings. Gore wasn’t this one’s main goal and you know what? It didn’t need it.
ACTING
The great Scott Speedman (James) and the still cute Liv Tyler (Kristen) were in the moment, credible and even when the script would work against them with “trivial moves”, they would sell me on them via solid chops. Aces!
T & A
Na and thing!
DIRECTING
The flick often reminded me of a suspense party favor from the 70’s in it’s bleak, tension driven, “camera over the shoulder” abusing and “quick cut” free approach. They went old school here! Thank you! I needed that!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a minimalist and somewhat chaotic in its order score and a chilling use of old school tunes (record player/scratched records and all). Both really jacked up the spine-chilling factor of the film.
BOTTOM LINE
THE STRANGERS had a bang-on cast, genuine tension, solemn visuals, an unsettling mood, a genius use of sound and an effortless pace. Granted the script sometimes went the “duh” way to force the events in the direction they HAD to go and having Speedman be absent for so long hurt the flick in my opinion. But as the end credits rolled, I was one happy camper looking to get laid and then slaughtered by some dude wearing a hockey mask. Always a good feeling to have! Question is… will you feel the same?
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot in South Carolina, USA.

Scott Speedman was born in London, England but raised in Toronto, Canada.

Model Gemma Ward plays one of the killers.

They say that the film was based on a true story. But I couldn't find any true story that matched the events in this film; Manson stuff aside.

STALK THE STRANGERS OFFICIAL SITE HERE

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

12:14PM on 03/24/2010

Unrated Director's Cut

That's the only version I have watched of this and I love this film! Didn't need the gore or gimmicks to make it creepy as hell. This film is more realistic than anything I could find in the Saw franchise, which is why it IS scary. LOVE IT!
That's the only version I have watched of this and I love this film! Didn't need the gore or gimmicks to make it creepy as hell. This film is more realistic than anything I could find in the Saw franchise, which is why it IS scary. LOVE IT!
Your Reply:



11:49PM on 05/02/2009

Underrated

Surprised at all the negative vibes about this film, I dug it a lot- and I admit I wasn't even expecting to with how long it took for this movie to finally be released. It did drag a little bit at one point for me but other than that, aces. Spot on review.
Surprised at all the negative vibes about this film, I dug it a lot- and I admit I wasn't even expecting to with how long it took for this movie to finally be released. It did drag a little bit at one point for me but other than that, aces. Spot on review.
Your Reply:



4:02PM on 01/21/2009
It's ok, there are some tense moments. But it is a very cliched movie, very predictable.
It's ok, there are some tense moments. But it is a very cliched movie, very predictable.
Your Reply:



11:57PM on 12/26/2008

What I needed

This is the movie I've been waiting a long time for: An actual suspenseful movie! Seriously, this movie makes me not want to buy a home in the middle of nowhere now! Sure, a few things were predictable, but my heart pounding made up for that!
I'm now sitting alone in my room with no noise at all thinking about this movie. A little creepy.
This is the movie I've been waiting a long time for: An actual suspenseful movie! Seriously, this movie makes me not want to buy a home in the middle of nowhere now! Sure, a few things were predictable, but my heart pounding made up for that!
I'm now sitting alone in my room with no noise at all thinking about this movie. A little creepy.
Your Reply:



+0
7:23AM on 11/06/2008

Really dull.

I can't say I cared much for this movie. The trailers were creepy, but the end product was rather dull with a pair of leads I couldn't care less about. The only thing in this film that worked were the masks, and even those lost their effectiveness by the end. I thought the similarly plotted Vacancy was a lot more effective than this flick.
I can't say I cared much for this movie. The trailers were creepy, but the end product was rather dull with a pair of leads I couldn't care less about. The only thing in this film that worked were the masks, and even those lost their effectiveness by the end. I thought the similarly plotted Vacancy was a lot more effective than this flick.
Your Reply:



12:27PM on 09/10/2008

I think i've seen this movie before.

this was way too predictable, with the same played out scenarios we've seen hundreds of times before.
this was way too predictable, with the same played out scenarios we've seen hundreds of times before.
Your Reply:



1:07PM on 09/01/2008

Damn good

Im suprised at all the hate. It reminded me of Halloween. The tension was palpable damn near the whole time. The directing was top notch and the whole tone of the film was perfect. The ending was ace and I loved how the killers played around so much.

There were times when I wished they would do something, but the overall tension and atmosphere brought it home.
Im suprised at all the hate. It reminded me of Halloween. The tension was palpable damn near the whole time. The directing was top notch and the whole tone of the film was perfect. The ending was ace and I loved how the killers played around so much.

There were times when I wished they would do something, but the overall tension and atmosphere brought it home.
Your Reply:



9:09PM on 07/11/2008

Right on, Arrow.

The Strangers worked for me too. There's not much "meat" to it, per se, but as a bare-bones, chilly little thriller I think it did it's job with good lead performances (esp. in first part of film), a brief, rapid runtime and a blessed lack of pretense. The killers are more interesting PRECISELY because we know so little about them. Only big flaw: That copout last frame. Didn't buy that.
The Strangers worked for me too. There's not much "meat" to it, per se, but as a bare-bones, chilly little thriller I think it did it's job with good lead performances (esp. in first part of film), a brief, rapid runtime and a blessed lack of pretense. The killers are more interesting PRECISELY because we know so little about them. Only big flaw: That copout last frame. Didn't buy that.
Your Reply:



+0
10:40AM on 06/09/2008

I STRONGLY disagree

I'm going to have to disagree with you Arrow. I thought that this movie was tired, repetitive and totally predictable.
I'm going to have to disagree with you Arrow. I thought that this movie was tired, repetitive and totally predictable.
Your Reply:



7:43PM on 06/04/2008

meh..

good movie but predictable and done before story....was like watching "them" again...how many times will people in far out cabins get attaked? was ok...
good movie but predictable and done before story....was like watching "them" again...how many times will people in far out cabins get attaked? was ok...
Your Reply:



+0
6:02PM on 06/02/2008

Disturbing Final Scene

As a whole this movie was decent and the stalking sequences were quite frankly very terrifying to quite a number of people in the theater I was at. Very old school which is great. However the final scene of the movie was almost too disturbing to watch. The only other thing I have seen that disturbing was the Lake Berryessa scene from Zodiac. Honestly at what point do people cross the line in the realism in which a murder is depicted. Honestly the last scene was like witnessing a snuff
As a whole this movie was decent and the stalking sequences were quite frankly very terrifying to quite a number of people in the theater I was at. Very old school which is great. However the final scene of the movie was almost too disturbing to watch. The only other thing I have seen that disturbing was the Lake Berryessa scene from Zodiac. Honestly at what point do people cross the line in the realism in which a murder is depicted. Honestly the last scene was like witnessing a snuff film. Other than that I was happy with what I saw. BTW, Arrow, google Cabin 28; this film was loosely based off of that real life massacre. Pretty scary shit too.
Your Reply:



Mistress Of The Week

More
Terell, Taryn