Saturday, March 17, 2018

Movie Review: The Strangers

Utter dread and terror permeate this simple film about a home invasion that is chilling and sickening. Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) have a fraught relationship after they leave a wedding to spend the night at James's father's cabin. James calls his friend Mike (Glenn Howerton) to pick him up in the morning because the couple is arguing. They are starting to make up when a loud knock on the door disturbs them. James answeres the door to find a girl shrouded in shadow. She asks if Tamra is there but the couple tell her that she has the wrong house. She takes the news quietly and walks away. James notices that the light outside had been unscrewed so he twists it back on. They lock the door thoroughly spooked by this woman's strange behavior as they thought that they were alone in this area. 

James starts a fire but then goes off to buy a pack of cigarettes leaving Kristen alone. The chimney is not open and smoke causes the fire alarm to go off. As Kristen tries to turn it off, she hears another knock at the door leaving the alarm unattended on the ground. The same girl is on the other side of the door and Kristen yells at her to go away. She calls James from the house phone as her cell still needs to charge. She is scared by the fact that her phone and the smoke alarm have been moved and she grabs a knife. She does not notice a strange man with a sack over his head standing nearby in one of the more terrifying scenes. 

She does see figures standing outside and is terrorized by banging all around the house. The front door opens and she sees a woman with a doll mask staring at her outside. She hides in the bedroom until James returns. He does not believe her at first but starts to see strange things including someone running around in the woods. He threatens a woman who slashes his tires but receives no response. The cell phones have had their batteries stolen so they cannot contact anyone for help. They try to leave in the car but a different woman slams into their car with a truck totaling it. The couple runs back into the house where James finds his father's shotgun.

The attackers put on a country music record and turn up the music making it hard to hear people moving around. As James and Kristen hide in the bedroom, Mike arrives and realizes something is wrong. He walks into the house and tries to talk to James but is shot in the head by accident. The murder of his friend crushes James but he knows there is a way to communicate to the outside world. A radio in the barn is their best option so James heads out with the shotgun and tries to shoot one of the women when he is attacked by the sack man. Kristen tries to radio for help but one of the women smashes the radio and then knocks her unconscious. They wake up in the morning with the killers watching them. The killers take their time killing them and leave the carnage behind for two young boys to find a little while later. Kristen is still alive and the film ends with her screaming.

The Strangers does a good job creating a dreadful environment and using simple camera positioning and scenarios to create horror. The sack-headed villain is a terrifying villain along with his two female companions that harass this unsuspecting couple. I have a vague memory of this coming out but it is still surprising to see Liv Tyler and I was really shocked to see Glenn Howerton considering his career has primarily been in comedy. I found the film to be pretty simple yet a solid horror movie that didn't really need to spawn a sequel but these many years later, one has arrived at the door like an unknown person knocking on the door. 

No comments:

Post a Comment