The 2008 home invasion thriller The Strangers divided audiences who either got on board with it or scratched their collective heads and wondered what point the filmmakers were attempting to make. For those who got on its wavelength (count me in) it proved to be a compelling enough experience. It was well crafted and decently executed, building palpable suspense at each and every turn even if the film’s takeaway didn’t score very high when all was said and done. Suffice it to say that there were much worse movie going experiences to be had than to spend the ninety minutes required to bear witness to The Strangers.
The inevitable sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night has now arrived. The fact that it took them ten years to get this film into theaters is a bigger mystery than anything you’re liable to find in the movie’s extremely derivative plot. This is a sequel that, in spite of being co-written by the writer of the original film, eschews everything that made the original film work as well as it did and relies instead on cheap thrills and stupid horror tropes that were old hat thirty years ago.
The original film starred Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman in the two lead roles, two names that have had their share of box office triumphs in days gone by. The Strangers: Prey at Night offers no such star power and the cast is lackluster at best. They do the requisite screaming and running but there’s not much nuance to their performances with their range running roughly the gamut from A to B.
The premise here is that troubled teen Kinsey (Bailee Madison), is being sent off to boarding school. Her parents (Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks) and brother (Lewis Pullman) are taking a road trip to personally deliver the girl to her destination. Their plan is to stop and visit with relatives who run a mobile home community along the way. Once they arrive it isn’t long before the Strangers of the film’s title take the opportunity to terrorize the foursome as they run around the neighborhood in an attempt to stay alive. Kinsey and her family use every tool they can get their hands but these Strangers just won’t stay down no matter how many times they’re blasted with a gun or gutted with sharp instruments.
One of the elements that made the original film work as well as it did was that the locale of the film’s story was basically kept to one location, the house of the two main characters. The action here is all over the place, with the characters running from one end of the trailer park to the other in an effort to stay alive. It’s not only tiring but just plain boring after awhile. Although, a killing in the final act that takes place with the 80s group Air Supply blaring in the background is just strange enough to make you pay attention. It’s that kind of a movie.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is playing in Hickory and all around the area.
Photo: Christina Hendricks & Bailee Madison in ‘Prey at Night’
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