A Modern Horror Classic Gets A Good-Enough Sequel With ‘The Strangers: Prey At Night time’
It’s not onerous to be scary. Anybody who is aware of just a few primary methods could make a movie stuffed with low cost scares. It’s a lot more durable to be haunting, which requires greater than technical ability (even when that doesn’t damage). Launched in the summertime of 2008, The Strangers appeared to come back out of nowhere, however anybody who’s seen the film has a tough time shaking it. Written and directed by first-timer Bryan Bertino, the movie combines a downcast tone — its first third is basically given over to a wedding proposal gone awry that leaves its central couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) an unsure future — arresting visuals, an uncommon persistence for lengthy takes, and an alarming plausibility to make the story of masked intruders invading an remoted nation residence exceptionally disturbing. A decade later, a shot of Tyler’s character standing within the foreground as considered one of her soon-to-be tormenters emerges from the shadows stays burned in my reminiscence, as does the killers’ eventual rationalization for his or her actions: “Since you have been residence.”
A part of what made The Strangers appear so singular is as a result of it was simply that: singular. Just like the killers on the movie’s finish, it simply type rode off into the sundown with no trace of when or if it’d return. The Strangers: Prey At Night time undoes that, and although it doesn’t come near touching the unique, it’s not the years-late embarrassment it may need been. That’s partially as a result of it goals a lot decrease than its predecessor. From the primary notes of Adrian Johnston’s John Carpenter-inspired rating to the retro font used for the title card, Prey At Night time units itself up as an homage to traditional slasher movies, and largely does proper by its inspirations.
Not that the unique’s affect isn’t in every single place, too. Bertino co-wrote the script with Ben Ketai however cedes directing duties to Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down), who skillfully guides it by means of a set-up that then permits the film to repeat highlights from the unique movie for some time. Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson co-star as, respectively, Cindy and Mike, mother and father to a pair of teenagers. Luke (Lewis Pullman) is a star athlete, all-around good child and a stark distinction to his troubled sister Kinsey (Bailee Madison), a insurgent who’s being shipped off to a boarding college for some undisclosed transgression. (Cinematic shorthand: She wears a Ramones t-shirt to ascertain her punk bonafides.)
Nonetheless, Cindy and Mike attempt to make it enjoyable. They’re hip younger mother and father — she wears a jean jacket with enjoyable pins — so that they resolve to cease off at a cell residence owned by some relations. A cell residence that may solely be accessed by a single bridge. At night time. In low season. When no one else is round.
From there, issues progress as you may anticipate, particularly in case you’ve seen The Strangers: An odd go to results in loud knocks, unusual thumps, bizarre graffiti, and finally an outright assault from a mask-wearing trio of baddies, who appear to have spent the final 10 years getting more and more higher at menacing and killing their victims. (They’ve additionally narrowed their musical style to early ‘80s pop ballads, due to a soundtrack stuffed with Kim Wilde, Laura Branigan, and Air Provide.)
That the characters in The Strangers by no means actually made any unhealthy selections helped make it efficient. Not like most horror motion pictures, the movie made it onerous to think about your self doing any higher than the central couple. They weren’t silly, simply unprepared, and so they don’t make any flawed strikes of their combat to outlive, they’re simply outmatched. Although the Prey At Night time household appears beautiful and more likely to overcome their present familial pressure in the event that they hadn’t run right into a gang of killers, they’re additionally fairly dumb, splitting up and operating towards hazard as an alternative of getting within the automobile and flooring it on the first signal of hazard.
Nonetheless, that enables Roberts to tip his hat to slashers previous, particularly the Friday the 13th motion pictures and, within the climax, one of the vital well-known moments from The Texas Chain Noticed Bloodbath. They’re time-tested touches that also work however probably the most memorable set piece — a late-film showdown by a swimming pool — can be the movie’s freshest contribution to the style, a refreshing spark of the brand new in the midst of a film that attracts closely on what’s come earlier than, be it traditional slashers or the film from which it takes its title and its unhealthy guys however not its potential to unnerve.