Directed and written by Bryan Bertino, The Strangers is a claustrophobic nightmare that persists in its will to take that image of home being safe, and turning it into a confinement of horror. It is inspired by Bertino’s experiences as a kid, amongst a few other things. (Find out more here)
Kristen Mckay, played by Liv Tyler (The Lord of The Rings) and James Hoyt, (Scott Speedman- Underworld) arrive in the middle of the night at the Hoyts vacant, and fairly remote, summer home. James had decorated the house ahead of time, but an unforeseen declined marriage proposal earlier that evening dampens any romantic activity. When a strange and mysterious young woman comes knocking at stupid o’clock asking for someone called Tamara, a person neither of them know, terror slowly begins to creep in.
James leaves the house to go get cigarettes and some fresh air, and within minutes of being alone, Kristen begins experiencing strange knocks on the doors and windows. The young girl returns to the front door, again asking for Tamara. When James returns to a hysterically frightened Kristen, things get worse, and they both realize that they are being terrorized by a masked threesome whose motive is disturbingly unknown.
The only insight we’re given as to why the antagonists act as they do comes in the form of the answer one of them gives to Kristen petrified question, “Why are you doing this to us?!” The response simply being, “Because you were home.”
As characters, the masked killers have no background or story and no real identity to them is ever given, and this technique is effective in its intent. I thought The Strangers had a nice eerie atmosphere with decent performances from Tyler and Speedman with their relationship together, another rather ambiguous aspect of the film.
It could have done more in terms of visual scares, but psychologically I thought The Strangers delivered the premise extremely well and I enjoyed it. If you’re into suspense and the thrill of the chase, then The Strangers is for you, but if you need a lot of bark with your bite when it comes to horror, you might not find this a scream.
WICKED RATING: 6.5/10 [usr 6.5]
Title: The Strangers
Director(s): Bryan Bertino
Writer(s): Bryan Bertino
Stars: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward
Studio/ Production Co: Rogue Pictures, Intrepid Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment
Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
Sub-Genre: Mystery, Thriller