The Strangers: Prey at Night Review
After a ten year wait this sequel ultimately fails to deliver the creep factor that was so prominent before
A knock at the door turns a family getaway into a bloody nightmare in the follow up to the 2008 home invasion thriller, The Strangers.The home invasion movie is one that never seems to get old or tired. There’s just something about being attacked in your own home that never fails to scare. Home is where you’re supposed to be safe, where nothing can get to you, which is why when masked assailants start with their so called 'fun and games', it always gets under your skin. That was very much the case with 2008's The Strangers. Three masked individuals who are not even given a motive bring a night of torture and terror to a young couple in a remote family holiday home. Writer and director Bryan Bertino took his time setting up the atmosphere and building the tension between the three stalkers and the couple and brought it altogether in an ending that was as soul destroying as it was brilliant. So, ten years later we have a sequel to Bertino’s film, this time directed by Johannes Roberts with a script written by Ben Ketai with Bertino.Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) have had enough of their teenage daughter’s unruly behaviour and have decided to ship Kinsey (Bailee Madison) off to boarding school to teach her a lesson once and for all. And we know that Kinsey is a bad egg because she wears a Ramones t-shirt, has ripped jeans and, to complete the rebellious look, tries her darnedest to look mean while she tries to smoke. So, along with their elder son Luke (Lewis Pullman) the family head off to spend some quality family time together before the fledglings leave the nest. They head off to Cindy’s uncles trailer park, which because it’s off season just so happens to be completely deserted. As the parents settle in for the night and try to convince their kids to put down their phones and participate in a game of cards, a knock at the door ends any potential fun as the shadowy figure asks ‘Is Tamra home?’.
You’d think that having had ten years to muse over a potential follow up would be enough time to plan it out to a tee, making sure that all the pieces fit together seamlessly. That’s what you’d think. Instead of building on the success of the first film it feels as though the filmmakers thought that in order to up the ante they needed to add in extra plot detail and background information for the sake of it. The extra information adds nothing to the story or the characters and ends up seeming like pointless exposition.
The steady pace is practically gone with the previously seen slow escalation of torment barely there. The masked trio also seem to have the ability to be everywhere at once in this trailer park and waste no time taunting the family but cut straight to it (literally), killing off one of the main characters within the first half hour. The film is a clear homage to old horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and even Christine, featuring a synthesised 80’s style score and hits such as Kim Wilde’s ‘We’re The Kids in America’ and Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ on the soundtrack. It’s just a shame that all the other elements don’t match the direction Robert’s seemed to want to take.
The film spends less time building the tension and more time trying to be something it’s not, with the first half of the film ending up pretty bland and generic, although from the pool scene onwards it takes a nice turn and almost makes up for the first half, even if it's ultimately too little too late.
The film spends less time building the tension and more time trying to be something it’s not.
The Strangers: Prey At Night is a not the best sequel; there are some scares that might get the more jumpy viewer but for those well versed in horror movie lore, they will not land, at all. It’s an okay movie but not one to rush out and see at the pictures, especially when there are other more interesting horror-esque films out there like A Quiet Place and the upcoming Hereditary.
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