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Review: The Strangers: Prey at Night

The Strangers: Prey at Night
8 10

PLOT: While staying at a secluded mobile home park, a family is terrorized by three mask wearing psychopaths. Will they survive the night? 

REVIEW: In 2008, audiences were terrified by THE STRANGERS, the Bryan Bertino directed thriller starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. In fact, ever since then, many fans have been hoping for a sequel. And now we have THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT which continues the murderous adventures of the “Man in the Mask”, the “Pin-Up Girl” and “Dollface.” Once again, this motley crew of psycho killers are back to terrorize a family simply because they happened to be around. The question is, is the return of THE STRANGERS a welcome one? Well if you are looking for a scary blast of tension and chills with a killer soundtrack, this is definitely a worthwhile return.

On a family outing, troubled teen Kinsey (Bailee Madison) and her brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) are brought to a secluded mobile home park by their parents, Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson). Once there, they discover something is off when a strange girl knocks on their door asking for a person that doesn’t live there. Sound familiar? After a family squabble, Kinsey runs off into the darkness leaving everyone behind. In hopes to salvage the evening, Cindy convinces her son to go after his sister. Soon however, with all the family dysfunction in full swing, they come to the realization that they are being stalked by three masked psychopaths looking to play a little cat and mouse.

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Taking on a second chapter to this film was most assuredly very tricky. How do you elicit scares from the three strangers who we’ve all seen before, and still give audiences something fresh? Thankfully, filmmaker Johannes Roberts (47 METERS DOWN, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR) has offered up a story that is as satisfying as the first… also a little less grim.The filmmaker injects something that was missing in the original film, a sense of fun interspersed throughout the horrors. Instead of bringing the audience down with a failing relationship sub-plot - although that is part of the equation here as well - this time he gives the victims more of  a fighting chance.

Another interesting choice are the little bits of nostalgia thrown in. Yes, I know, nostalgia can be a bad word when it comes to entertainment, however this worked for me. The soundtrack features a ton of old 80’s tunes that seem to be on the murderous trio’s Spotify playlist. The director has added songs made famous by Kim Wilde, Bonnie Tyler, A-Ha and more, giving the flick a surprisingly colorful tone. And then there is the score by Adrian Johnston. You are more than likely to find a little hint of John Carpenter’s THE FOG in this soundtrack. And frankly, that’s not the only way Roberts pays homage to famous horror films, especially when it comes to Carpenter’s work and one moment clearly inspired by THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.

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I personally enjoyed THE STRANGERS, especially thanks to both Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Even still, it was a bit of a depressing experience. While Roberts maintains much of the atmosphere, there is more of a sense of levity this time around. Perhaps it helps that they have a few more locations to play with. One sequence is especially thrilling when we find one of the survivors fighting back at the vacation resort pool area. Bright and colorful, the onscreen violence mixed with what is arguably one of the most popular Eighties songs ever recorded is especially creative. Thankfully, while this certainly falls in line with the original, there is also a bit more action this time around.

Over the past few years, Christina Hendricks has proven to be an incredibly talented comedic actress, in fact, she can do just about anything. This now officially includes straight up horror. Both she and Martin Henderson add a grounded layer as they deal with a problematic daughter, and worse still, three psychopaths. As good as both Hendricks and Henderson are, you have to give credit to both Madison and Pullman. The two young actors are quite believable, especially when they realize they may have to rely on each other. Much like the original film, the talented cast pulls it off. And yes, when it comes to the villains, Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy and Lea Enslin seem to enjoy playing the terror loving threesome. And they are certainly creepy.

THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is a sequel done mostly right. The cast is terrific and the “Strangers” themselves are still pretty damn scary. If you are a fan of the original you will most likely appreciate this. However, if the first felt a bit too depressing and grim, you may enjoy the second chapter even more. Johannes Roberts brings in a little more action, a couple of scream at the screen moments, and a scary sense of fun. The pop songs, the little moments where he pays tribute to great horror directors, it all makes for a night at the movies that will freak you the f*ck out. Sure it has moments of slasher cheese like many a scary flick, but if you are looking for a cool horror movie to enjoy with an audience, this is one knock on the door worth answering.

Source: JoBlo.com

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