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Review: The Strangers

The Strangers
05.30.2008
5 10

Plot: A young couple (Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman)- who are staying at an isolated vacation home, are terrorized by three masked strangers.

Review: I wanted to like THE STRANGERS- I really did. The trailers for the film were excellent- and it's been awhile since I've seen a good horror flick. Sadly- it looks as though I'll have to keep waiting, as THE STRANGERS is strictly by the numbers.

What makes THE STRANGERS a particularly frustrating film, is the fact that it actually starts off pretty well. First time director Bryan Bertino does a great job establishing a somewhat downbeat mood. The cinematography is top notch, and I also really enjoyed the sparse use of music.

The cast is also a cut above for this type of film. Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman are both talented actors, and they make a very likable couple which is important for a film like this. You never lose sympathy for either of the characters- even though they do some boneheaded things once the attacks begin.

I was actually really enjoying THE STARNGERS up until about the half hour mark, at which point the real horror movie aspect of the film kicked in to high gear. At this point- THE STRANGERS really became run of the mill, and by the time it ended forty five minutes later (it runs a scant seventy seven minutes), I had completely lost interest.


I think the film really began to lose me once the protagonists started acting like your typical horror movie victims. For one thing- it takes them way too long to realize that they're in danger. The masked strangers only attack once they've scouted out the couple by sending someone to knock on their door. Despite being alone at this isolated place, the couple very naively opens the door to a complete stranger who seems completely insane! Probably not a good idea folks! And then afterwards, Speedman leaves Tyler all alone, while he drives off to pick up cigarettes- WTF! His character is particularly thick at times, especially once he finds a shotgun after the attacks begin.

While it may seem like I'm criticizing the film for being formulaic- that's not really the case. There's nothing wrong with a good formulaic horror film as long as the filmmakers are able to deliver a few good scares- but THE STRANGERS, to me anyway, is a remarkably un scary film. Despite the R-rating, the film is actually fairly tame (not always a bad thing), and instead of copious amounts of gore, the filmmakers try to get psychological- a la Hitchcock. Sadly, Bertino is no Hitchcock, and he relies on cheap jump scenes that the audience can see coming from a mile away (the last jump scene is particularly lame).

Also- THE STRANGERS of the title are not particularly scary. There's only three of them, and they don't seem all that physically imposing, and are not even well armed (they each carry a knife- that's it). Considering that Speedman's got a shotgun and tons of shells, you'd think that they would at least be able to put up some kind of fight. At the beginning of the film, we get some brief narration stating that the film is based on a true story- but I have a feeling this is a load a rubbish. It's possible that the film was somewhat inspired by the Manson family Tate- Labianca slayings- but those cases don't really have much in common with what happens in the film.

Overall- I was very disappointed with THE STRANGERS, especially considering that the film had so much potential. At the end of the day it's just another uninspired slasher film, and definitely nothing to get excited about.

Grade: 5/10

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Source: JoBlo.com

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