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The Strangers: Prey at Night: A Very Good Slasher Film

August 31, 2018


The Strangers: Prey at Night is the rare horror sequel that improves upon the slasher premise of its predecessor in every way and achieves almost-greatness (in horror sequel terms). Director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) should be applauded for the way he molds familiar horror tropes with innovative set pieces that feature inventive camera work, creative music choices, and lots of blood. I can’t think of the last time I enjoyed a horror film so much, and I’m glad it’s starting to get some love with Bloody Disgusting, The Hollywood Reporter, and The A.V. Club writing nice things about it.

I had no urge to watch the sequel because I wasn’t a fan of the smug villains who killed the dour couple in The Strangers. The killers annoyed me with their overly pretentious mannerisms and I almost expected them to go to a coffee shop and pretentiously discuss their kills over several comically large cappuccinos. I know they were meant to be mysterious, but their underwritten mannerisms and “random” acts made them seem less like Michael Myers and more like the people you hate to have at parties because they call everything “cute” or “little.” I know I am projecting personalities onto masked villains who say virtually nothing, however, I’m totally cool saying they are empty vessels who kill unnecessarily sad people.

What I love about The Strangers: Prey at Night is how the villains seem legitimately insane. They aren’t very good at killing, and their games seem practical because they were concocted by crazy people. There is no rhyme-or-reason to their methods which may seem absurd, but I think it’s what they want. They haven’t thought it through and it’s like they are embracing the randomness of their game — which leads to “horror-trope” moments involving jump scares, omnipresent villains and terrible decisions. I didn’t mind the familiar horror elements or omnipresent villains because everything else around these moments are directed, written and performed well.

100% jerk.

The Strangers: Prey at Night tells the story of a nice married couple (Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson) and their two snotty teenagers (Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman) stopping overnight at a trailer park. The family is at the trailer park because they are on their way to a boarding school that the bratty daughter will be attending. Thus, everyone is annoyed with each other, which adds a melodramatic element that isn’t needed (can’t they be a happy family?). Soon after they arrive things go horribly wrong and they have to battle three mask wearing maniacs who really want to kill them.

The ensuing violence can be frustrating because it features people going into places they shouldn’t, and killers who have no problem hiding in the shadows so they can provide jump scares for the audience. However, I was able to roll with the familiar elements and was pleasantly surprised how the terror builds towards a stellar sequence at a swimming pool that might be one of the my favorite horror moments in years. I won’t give anything else away, but I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the ending and inventive visuals.

If you are looking for a pure slasher film that features creative set pieces and an inspired soundtrack you will love this movie. I’m bummed that critics/audiences disliked it because it seems like it wasn’t given a chance. Hopefully, it will thrive on VOD/Blu-ray and build the audience it deserves.



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