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The Strangers (2008)
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Review Date: November 19, 2008
Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer: Bryan Bertino
Producers: Doug Davison, Nathan Kahane, Roy Lee
Actors:
Liv Tyler as Kristen
Scott Speedman as James
Glenn Howerton as Mike
Plot:
A young couple return home after a wedding, a little drunk, but also a little miffed at one another, as they seem to have squabbled, before re-entering their abode. Their petty squabbles fall by the wayside though, when someone knocks on their door at four in the morning, and the next thing you know, they’re being harassed by some “strangers” in masks. Scary? Yes. Original? Not entirely.
Critique:
An extremely effective claustrophobic horror picture that starts slow but ultimately provides us with plenty of suspense all the way through to its very dark ending, which despite working from a narrative point of view, didn’t really “fulfill” me the way I would have liked. That said, I can’t take anything from the writer/director Bryan Bertino, who managed to create a very intense and chilling horror movie that will most certainly scare the shit out of most viewers, especially those who will be brave enough to watch it alone at home and in the dark. I had a honey-bunny nuzzled into my right-side during the entire movie, but that certainly didn’t make any of it less creepy. One of the best parts about the film is that its baddies, impressively camouflaged in “happy face masks” or just a simple “bag with holes in it”, did everything in their power to essentially just scare the poor saps stuck in the house, while at the same time, building up the questions as to who they were, and what exactly they wanted. By the end of the film (it only lasts about 90 minutes), we’re given somewhat ambiguous answers to both of those questions, and even though that worked for me in terms of the film’s storyline (maybe these are just some really “messed up people”), I can’t say that I was happy about it.

Kudos to Bertino for building the tension nicely though, with lots of silences, creepy voices, jump scares, use of songs and a sharp eye behind the camera, as well as plenty of steady-cam work to give it all more of a voyeuristic feel. I also have to give it up to both Liv Tyler and the great Scott Speedman, both of whom pull off admirable performances here, and who should be commended for being able to maintain that level of fear throughout most of the picture. The film isn’t entirely original though, as I can name several movies in which folks are terrorized in their own homes, or even in motels and shit (see VACANCY from just last year), but that doesn’t make the film any less effective, in my point of view. In other words, if you want to get the shit scared out of your ass, or you just want a girl you like to nuzzle herself into your right-side, check out this film in the pitch dark, but don’t expect some kind of revelatory ending, because there won’t be one coming. The movie ends on a note as black as my socks, which for a horror film, can’t be considered all bad, when all is said and bludgeoned. For me though, I’m just not that into such morbid films, so for that personal reason alone, the film didn’t score a little higher in terms of my grading, but really, it’s a pretty damn terrifying movie.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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9:57AM on 11/09/2010

Home Invasion!!!

This was one f****** scary movie, especially when you see the date it supposed to happen. I still love this movie, and love Liv Tyler. She is an great actress.
This was one f****** scary movie, especially when you see the date it supposed to happen. I still love this movie, and love Liv Tyler. She is an great actress.
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10:55PM on 12/22/2009
A very effective,creepy,suspenseful flick.As you pointed out,not exactly original but outstanding performances and greatcamerawork make this film rock!
A very effective,creepy,suspenseful flick.As you pointed out,not exactly original but outstanding performances and greatcamerawork make this film rock!
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3:31AM on 11/22/2008
Honestly, it is better than Ils in many ways. This movie did scare the shit out of me, and had effective performances and great production design. Live Tyler gave a very solid performance, and that ending still chills me to the bones. The best horror film of the year, by far.
Honestly, it is better than Ils in many ways. This movie did scare the shit out of me, and had effective performances and great production design. Live Tyler gave a very solid performance, and that ending still chills me to the bones. The best horror film of the year, by far.
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10:18PM on 11/21/2008

Ils anyone?

Honestly... After seeing the french film Ils (Them) this seems like a copy of it. Yeah, it packed some good thrills but nothing to get me excited or even "scared" for that matter, and I'm easy to scare. For a real thrill rent Ils.
Honestly... After seeing the french film Ils (Them) this seems like a copy of it. Yeah, it packed some good thrills but nothing to get me excited or even "scared" for that matter, and I'm easy to scare. For a real thrill rent Ils.
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12:38AM on 11/20/2008
I can actually see where you guys are coming from, in terms of it being "uneventful," but something about this movie just really got under my skin. Can't quite pinpoint it, but what I do know is that I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would.
I can actually see where you guys are coming from, in terms of it being "uneventful," but something about this movie just really got under my skin. Can't quite pinpoint it, but what I do know is that I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would.
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8:05PM on 11/19/2008

GLAD TO SEE SO MANY NEGATIVE POSTS

This movie is dreadfully atrocious and does not have one single good thing going for it. I don't know what JoBlo saw that I didn't. The characters and acting performances were boring, and they keep making the dumbest possible decisions. The film's primary problem, however, is that NOTHING HAPPENS! It would probably have worked for a half hour Twilight Zone episode, but to say that this film is stretching out its runtime would be a major understatement. The movie is nothing you haven't seen done
This movie is dreadfully atrocious and does not have one single good thing going for it. I don't know what JoBlo saw that I didn't. The characters and acting performances were boring, and they keep making the dumbest possible decisions. The film's primary problem, however, is that NOTHING HAPPENS! It would probably have worked for a half hour Twilight Zone episode, but to say that this film is stretching out its runtime would be a major understatement. The movie is nothing you haven't seen done infinitely better before. Just an all-around atrocious excuse for a movie!
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5:20PM on 11/19/2008

Now this is getting overrated

I was doubtful yet excited to see this movie. In the end, this movie doesn't really do it for me. It's just really disappointing because the trailer for the film makes it to be something much more thrilling and suspenseful. I found the pacing to be so slow that this movie bored me to tears. I found the tone of the film to be so dull that there were barely any scares to keep me interested. I found the atmosphere of the movie to be so boring and quiet that--you get what I mean.

Some clichés
I was doubtful yet excited to see this movie. In the end, this movie doesn't really do it for me. It's just really disappointing because the trailer for the film makes it to be something much more thrilling and suspenseful. I found the pacing to be so slow that this movie bored me to tears. I found the tone of the film to be so dull that there were barely any scares to keep me interested. I found the atmosphere of the movie to be so boring and quiet that--you get what I mean.

Some clichés are still here, although not a lot. The strangers are like fast traveling ghosts who can appear in a scene and disappear in a split second. Yeah, that annoyed me quite a bit. However, I feel sympathy towards the protagonists. This film has much better character development than most. Let me add this: Barely anything happens in this hour and a half film. That's the biggest complaint coming from me. Yeah, I'm exaggerating but, I kid you not, the ball does not get rolling in this movie at all.

What did I like about the movie? Probably the first thirty or so minutes. Why? It was promising. That's until I realized right after that, the plot went nowhere. Seriously, think of the strangers banging and messing the protagonist's minds for the first half of the film. In the next half, think of people running, hiding, screaming...the movie was spinning its wheels after that.

What I hope would be an at least decent, scary film turned out to be so boring and uninteresting that I was disappointed. The performances were decent, at best. Overall, this film is not worth your time. Horror fans may be severely disappointed and the film is just not suspenseful nor scary. The best you can get out of this movie is its trailer.
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5:00PM on 11/19/2008
Yeahh i thought this movie f*cking sucked... I mean jesus christ, it was like everytime Tyler and Speedman were in the house, the *strangers* were in the house, but not doing anything to harm them... Then for no f*cking apparent reason they walk on outside, with the stranger right behind them... doing NOTHING! God it was so Boring i couldn't wait till the end
Yeahh i thought this movie f*cking sucked... I mean jesus christ, it was like everytime Tyler and Speedman were in the house, the *strangers* were in the house, but not doing anything to harm them... Then for no f*cking apparent reason they walk on outside, with the stranger right behind them... doing NOTHING! God it was so Boring i couldn't wait till the end
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2:35PM on 11/19/2008

This Movie Scared Me.

For Me This Has To Be One Of The Most Terrifying Horror Films Ever Made. I Saw It Months Ago And Its Still Giving Me Nightmares.
For Me This Has To Be One Of The Most Terrifying Horror Films Ever Made. I Saw It Months Ago And Its Still Giving Me Nightmares.
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7:52AM on 11/19/2008

This movie SUCKED!

This had to be just about the WORST movie of 2008. The only one I can think of that was as bad as this one is Funny games...the USA remake that is. They both were weak on plot and suspense. I do not see how this got a 7 out of 10 from this reviewer.
This had to be just about the WORST movie of 2008. The only one I can think of that was as bad as this one is Funny games...the USA remake that is. They both were weak on plot and suspense. I do not see how this got a 7 out of 10 from this reviewer.
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