The Strangers: Prey at Night sees a family on a road trip stopping off for the night in a trailer park, only to find that they are being targeted by a trio of malevolent ‘strangers’ with murder on their minds.
Martin Henderson (The Ring), Christina Hendricks (The Neon Demon), Bailee Madison (Don’t be Afraid of the Dark), and Lewis Pullman (Aftermath) star as the family at the center of the action. The relationships between each of the characters feel genuine. Nearly none of the exchanges come across as forced or disingenuous. This makes the cast easier to invest in and gives the audience more reason to root for their survival.
Bryan Bertino (who wrote and directed the 2008 original) and Ben Ketai penned the screenplay for this follow up effort. And they got a lot right. I really appreciate the fact that they didn’t provide viewers with a lot of unnecessary backstory on the titular villains. Part of what makes them so goddamned terrifying is that we know nearly nothing about them aside from the fact that they are a trio of thrill-killers. Bertino and Ketai have crafted a new story to drop The Strangers into that allows them to effectively wreak terror on a new group of unsuspecting victims. It works as a nice continuation of the original but inversely, does not require that the viewer possess any knowledge of the first film.
Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) directed this latest chapter and he, once again, proves to have a solid understanding of crafting and sustaining suspense. Prey at Night is not as masterfully suspenseful as its 2008 predecessor. It reuses some of the same concepts as the first film to lesser effect. But it nonetheless kept me on the edge of my seat for the majority of its runtime. And I must say that it really hits the ground running. The scares come early and often and the body count is substantially higher than in the original. Roberts and company take the sequel into full on slasher territory, whereas the first film was primarily rooted in the home invasion genre.
The film features a number of smartly placed jump scares that are likely to have viewers jumping out of their seat while watching. Fortunately, there is more to the film than a few effective and well-timed scares. The cat-and-mouse scenes which find the leads being chased by The Strangers are smartly-executed and effectively scored. Several of the encounters are accompanied by music that by all rights should not work but miraculously it works so well that it’s hard to imagine anything else being played in the aforementioned scenes. Moreover, the musical stings that compliment the jump scares are also highly effective.
The Strangers: Prey at Night doesn’t necessarily bring a lot of new material to the table. A lot of the tropes are well worn and reminiscent of concepts and ideas we’ve seen many times before. But, taken for what it is, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced, and suspenseful film that doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to show viewers a good time. Fans of the original should find this to be an enjoyable outing that is well worth the price of a rental.
The Blu-Ray release includes an alternate ending, a series of featurettes, and much more. You can check The Strangers: Prey at Night out for yourself now on DVD, Blu-Ray, and DigitalHD.
Wicked Rating: 6/10
Director(s): Johannes Roberts
Writer(s): Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai
Stars: Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman
Release: June 12, 2018
Studio/ Production Co: Universal Home Entertainment
Budget: $5 Million (estimated)
Sub-Genre: Home Invasion/Slasher