The Strangers (2008) Review

The Strangers Plot Summary Explore your worst fears imaginable with this shocking suspense thriller inspired by disturbing true events. After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and a haunting voice, Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt's (Scott Speedman) remote getaway becomes a psychological night of terror as three masked strangers invade. Now they must go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbqELQHpmQM My Thoughts Having seen this movie in theaters twice, and the fact the DVD is coming out right around Halloween (October 21st), I figure now is a good time…

Review Overview

Acting
Visuals / Camera
Sound
Story
Pacing / Editing
Characters
Entertainment Value / X-Factor
Mood / Atmosphere

Bryan Bertino definitely hit a home run with his first film.

Explore your worst fears imaginable with this shocking suspense thriller inspired by disturbing true events. After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and a haunting voice, Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt's (Scott Speedman) remote getaway becomes a psychological night of terror as three masked strangers invade. Now they must go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive.

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The Strangers Plot Summary

Explore your worst fears imaginable with this shocking suspense thriller inspired by disturbing true events.
After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and a haunting voice, Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt’s (Scott Speedman) remote getaway becomes a psychological night of terror as three masked strangers invade. Now they must go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive.

My Thoughts

Having seen this movie in theaters twice, and the fact the DVD is coming out right around Halloween (October 21st), I figure now is a good time to give this movie a review. The Strangers is a pretty straight forward film. As soon as the film starts, we’re introduced to our two main characters; Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman). Apparently they are returning to a vacation house that belongs to the Hoyt family. We can also see that this couple is having some sort of relationship problems, as James Hoyt’s proposal to his girlfriend didn’t go as well as he had planned, to say the least.

This is Bryan Bertino’s first attempt at writing/directing a film. From the beginning of the film, he’s wanting us to see that things are already looking down for this couple. It has not been the greatest of times for them. However, their relationship problems come to be the least of their worries as the night goes on.

As I said above, this movie is a very straightforward film, as the story isn’t very complicated. These people are in a vacation home, and they have to try their best to survive while there are three strangers lurking around outside of their vacation home.

  • Where are they?
  • What do they want?
  • Who are they?
  • Are they going to harm Kristen and James?
  • Are they just trying to scare them?
  • What’s going on?
  • Are they in the house?

These are all questions you will ask yourself when you watch this movie. Though The Strangers may be straightforward, Bertino does a great job of drawing you into the film and it never gets boring.

A lot of people compare this movie to Vacancy. I don’t see many similarities other than the whole home invasion aspect; even though Vacancy obviously took place in a motel. However, in Vacancy we knew what was going on. We knew why they were attacking these people and they were very confident about it. We saw their faces, we knew their motive and we knew they were out there because most of the time we could see them. The Strangers themselves put me in the mind of Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. They’re lurking in the dark, and we never know when they could strike. You can sometimes see their white masks in the darkness, which also reminded me of Halloween.

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The Good

This movie leaves you wanting more.

Good pacing, with lots of atmosphere, a tolerable amount of filler, and steady buildup of scares rather than jumping into high gear

Not making all scares super obvious through bombastic music cues or un-subtle camerawork

Use of noise to make for uncomfortable moments

Protagonists who don’t spend too much time talking or kicking ass, so the audience doesn’t stop feeling scared

Antagonists who exude pure fear rather than banal “evil”

The Bad

This is one of those movies that make it very easy for you to put yourself into the characters’ position. Therefore, at times, you’ll find yourself saying “no, don’t do that!” That’s really the only thing I can come up with that may or may not be “bad” about this film, and that’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Final Thoughts

Overall, The Strangers was a good movie in my opinion. It was nice to see something a little different. The strangers are very mysterious as to exactly what their motives are, and I think that is what makes the movie so interesting. You just don’t know why this is happening to these people, and what the strangers are going to do. It gives the movie a very creepy vibe. Just when you think you can relax, something will pop up on the screen and make you jump.

I would say definitely check The Strangers out, even if you just rent it. This is one of those movies that after you watch it, you’ll be looking over your shoulder when all the lights are off and you get up for that midnight snack or glass of water.

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