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September 5, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

The Strangers

Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers is the perfect date movie. It’s the kind of film you watch with that significant someone, hold each other, get shit scared then go home and make hot passionate love. THIS IS NOT HOW I WATCHED THIS FILM! Like a fool I went with my equally wussy flatmate and got so scared we were laughing hysterically – not because it was amusing but because if we did not laugh we would cry.

Unlike many modern thrillers, which have you rolling your eyes and yelling at the main character for running up the stairs when they should be running out the door, The Strangers had a different effect. You find yourself wishing the main characters would roll over and die so they don’t have to go through any more horror. These unusual feelings could be attributed to the fact it is based on a real home invasion and murder, which took place in 2005. This fact is announced at the beginning of the film by a cheesy deep voice that sounded like Johnny Cash mixed with Mufasa from The Lion King.

The story follows a couple who are staying at an isolated country house after a friend’s wedding reception. Kristen McKay (played by Liv Tyler)’s boy friend James Hoyt (played by Scott Speedman) goes out to get her cigarettes. Three people then begin terrorizing the house with no motive but to fuck with the people in it. The three strangers Laura Margolis, Gemma Ward and Kip Weeks) are wearing the creepiest masks that I have ever seen. I know it sounds silly but imagine looking out your window at night and seeing Gemma Ward in a doll face mask… shudder! You never see the strangers’ faces, not even when they take off their masks, which somehow made it all the more terrifying. Just trust me when I say the whole film is the stuff of nightmares.

The cinematography of The Strangers is framed with slightly less cheese than other, more typical Hollywood thrillers such as Scream and the even more inane Urban Legend. Its focus on banal activities like smoking a cigarette, having a bath and lighting the fire is what really hits the home invasion… home.

The entire cast performed adequately with no special standout performances. There were some truly beautiful shots of the eerie countryside, particularly at the beginning. Bryan Bertino built suspense like a pro and left you hanging on the edge of your seat but he fell short with an ending that let the rest of the film down.

It’s good for what it is, the eerie tension it created was genuinely terrifying but it could have and should have been better.

Directed by Bryan Bertino


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