The Strangers (2008)

Director: Bryan Bertino
Plot: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Awards: -
Runtime: 85min
Rating: PG for violence/terror and language.




The Strangers' resemblance to last year's horror-thriller Vacancy says a lot about the sorry state of the genre now
. First, they share a similarly cliched premise. A couple with a strained relationship decides to take refuge in a remote motel/holiday home after a night's out only to find themselves being brutally assaulted by a gang of psychopaths. Aren't we all tired of this? Where’s the creativity in film writing? And the most fundamental question of all - where is the plot?
Secondly, what's with people wearing mas
ks? Yes, when it is done effectively, it can very well chill your spine. The first act of The Strangers is genuinely spooky; viewers can only catch glimpses of the masked killers which make them more frightening i.e. 'the Jaws effect'. After that, they appear on screen so often that their ability to shock becomes weaker. As a comparison, this is not true for The Orphanage, which is one of 2008's best horror pictures. The use of masks to hide one's identity in the Spanish film is cleverly done and is limited to only a few sequences, thus enhancing its chill factor.
Lastly, movies of such genre generally suffer from a casting problem, which is usually the consequence of a badly-written script. Instead of Scott Speedsman and Liv Tyler, put any other actor an
d actress together, and The Strangers would not have been very different. Acting talent is certainly not a prerequisite here. What is there to act when the roles are not well-written? The genre has degraded to such a dastardly level since the turn of the century that gone simply are the days of Halloween (1978) and Psycho (1960).
The Strangers is the movie equivalent of a headless chicken. There's no clear sense of purpose unlike the recent Funny Games U.S by the reputable Michael Haneke. Ironically, Funny Games U.S is made with the intention of condemning movies such as The Strangers. Viewers who happen to enjoy The Strangers either have not seen Haneke's film or have incredibly menial levels of film appreciation. Our parents' advice couldn’t have been more right - when strangers entice you with candy bars, simply just ignore them.


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