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!