The Strangers review by The Grim Ringler


Horror has always been interested in telling tales that reflect the times and STRANGERS is no different. The scariest stories are often the ones that speak to people the most. Strangers is a lot like the movies of the seventies that were a reflection of the dying of the hippie subculture. The world became suddenly big and there were villains behind every smile and no one was safe. America is in a similar situation where, for so long we have feared terrorists and villains from abroad now we find ourselves once again fearing the strangers among us. Enter The Strangers, a film that plays on the rising fear of home invasion and the idea that we dont really know our neighbors or one another anymore. A film that plays on our fear of each other.

An attractive young couple arrives at a vacation home late in the evening, the interior made up for a romantic celebration that wont take place. The couple, once desperately in love, arrive at the home as virtual strangers, unsure what to say or do to break the silence that hangs between them, they settle into toe routine of getting ready for bed. Though it is very late, the two hear a knock at the door and, they ask who it is through the door. Outside is dark, the porch light out, and they can make out no details of the stranger, though it sounds like a girl, looking for someone. They tell her she has the wrong home and she leaves the couple to their confusion. The woman decides she needs cigarettes and the man heads out into the night to find them, happy to be away from the tension. Not long after he leaves though there is another knock at the door the same girl, looking for the same person. The young woman in the house gets nervous. She isnt sure why but something seems wrong with that girl. A few minutes later someone is at the door, hammering against it, trying to get in. The woman, her fear solidified, finds herself trapped in the home, alone, and with no working phones. When her partner finally returns she has been frightened into hiding and insists that people were trying to get into the home, though he isnt so sure when he finds no sign of anyone having been inside. It doesnt take long though for the strangers to return, hammering on the windows, the door, the sides of the home, wanting, it seems, nothing more than to frighten those inside. This is only the beginning though, and as the night progresses, the horror only mounts as the strangers get more daring, and more terrifying. Hidden behind masks, they appear inhuman as they torment the couple, human monsters out for blood.

The crummiest thing about STRANGERS is it is such a damn beautiful film that its a shame that its such a LAZY film. It is filmed in a wonderful way that reminded me of EVIL DEAD and BLAIR WITCH in the way the darkness and night were shot, as if anything and everything was hiding in the darkness, watching and ready to attack. Heck, the idea is solid, as are the performances of the villains is great, they are menacing, haunting, and really create a sense of dread. The film falls apart with the writing and the acting of the leads. The lead actors are written like stereotypes of what people would do and how they would behave but, you know what, a lot of women wouldnt cower and turn to jelly when someone threatened them and every man wouldnt grab a gun and go out alone to take care of business. The story is so predictable that its hard to get anything out of the whole affair because you know what will happen, not that the introduction of the film helps, which gives away too much of the filmmakers hand. It is as if they re-made a film from the seventies and you just forget what movie it is.

THE STRANGERS is an interesting idea but, unfortunately, it clings to tightly to the modern nihilism of so many films without adding anything new to the formula. Thats the problem with a lot of films these days, theyre dark, sure, but dammit, add something with substance. Dont be dark just to be dark. This film plays like any of a million films that show a tragic slice of life, and cool, but the problem is that, after you see one, you have sorta seen them all. You need more than nihilism, more than the sheer terror of It Could Be Me, you need, if nothing else, a connection to the situation and the people in it, and unfortunately, I didnt get that at all with STRANGERS because I would never act as they did, do as they did, and I think a lot of people will feel the same way.

Beautifully shot but, like most holiday candy, hollow in the middle. There are some nice turns, nice moments of tension, and some nice moments of pure terror that are truly chilling but everything falls apart with the coda at the end, where it reveals, for no damned good reason, more about the strangers than we need. It was a self-indulgent scene and killed the bits of the film I had enjoyed. I tell you what though, I am very curious to see what this filmmaker does next, cause if nothing else, itll look stunning.


6 out of 10 Jackasses

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