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- Apr 4, 2017
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The Strangers: Prey At Night
It’s actually been 10 years since the surprise hit The Strangers debuted in theaters, and only a few short months after I reviewed the collector’s edition from Scream Factory HERE. The Strangers was a unique film, in that it basically kicked off the modern day home invasion thriller/horror genre. Films like The Purge (the original, before they went all action horror), You’re Next and the like ALL got their influence from this little low budget horror film about three masked people terrorizing a young couple. Usually I find that horror sequels to popular films get sequels in 2-3 years, but for some reason it took a decade for Universal to decide to invest in making the sequel. I’m also usually VERY leery of DTV sequels, but for some reason I was actually really intrigued by the trailers for The Strangers: Prey At Night. It didn’t look as cheesy and low quality, with a decent cast and the promise of another terrifying visit from the three masked killers. At the end of the day the movie did deliver quite nicely. Prey At Night doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, or really try and do anything too different, but they made some cool tweaks to the story that kept it from being a complete retread of the first movie.
Like The Strangers, we’re introduced to the new victims right off the bat. Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) are taking their trouble making daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison) away from some unnamed conflict in their old home town, and moving her away to get a fresh new start. On their way to their destination, they stop at “Uncle Marvin’s” trailer park, where they can get their bearings before moving on. However, their little slice of redneck heaven is about to be interrupted by the three unknown killers from the first movie. Kinsey and her brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) head off to find their relatives, but end up only finding dead bodies. Running back to Mike and Cindy the two breathlessly tell their parents what they say, so Mike takes Luke with him to investigate, while leaving Cindy and Kinsey to hide in the trailer (always a smart idea in horror movies to split up guys. Sheesh). As the two groups investigate and hide, they are set upon by the roving masked terrorizers, one by one getting picked off until only Luke and Kinsey are left. Both wounded, both scared, the two teens realize that they have no hope of getting out alive unless they do something drastic.
As I said earlier, The Strangers: Prey At Night doesn’t really try to reinvent the wheel here. We have the setup of an abandoned remote area, a group of innocents set upon by strangers, and the blood soaked finish. It’s a good, gory time, with some nasty kills and a high sense of terror due to the sheer randomness and lack of exposition from the killers. The opening is a bit overly long as it tries to give some sort of bonding to the four family members, but once the three masked killers show up things get fast paced in short order.
For a sequel that comes 10 years after the original, I was actually rather impressed with Prey At Night. It’s a smartly paced film that has a lot going for it. The acting is well done for this genre (although Henderson is not exactly known for anything. I mean, he IS the guy from the all famous Torque), but sadly Christina Hendricks is mostly wasted in the film. The kids are where most of the focus is on and they do an adequate job at playing scared teenagers, and the three masked killers don’t really have to DO much besides look scary. It’s a creepy film, and one that just about lives up to the original. Which is something I didn’t think that I’d say.
Rated R for horror violence and terror throughout, and for language
• "Prep for Night" Music Video – Director's Cut: The Man in the Mask, Dollface, and Pin-up Girl get ready to terrorize an unsuspecting family in a music video directed by horror auteur Mickey Keating (Darling, Carnage Park)
• A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey at Night: Stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson and director Johannes Roberts talk about the making of the film
• Family Fights Back: Stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman and director Johannes Roberts review the film's characters and their fight to survive
• The Music of The Strangers: Prey at Night: Director Johannes Roberts and star Bailee Madison discuss the John Carpenter-inspired score and the '80s soundtrack that keeps The Strangers killing
The Strangers: Prey At Night is a surprisingly entertaining sequel to a film that was good despite being cliched. The movie devolves into some of the more basic tropes of a slasher film, but it still keeps that disturbing feeling alive by having the killers speak as little as possible. The one thing that makes these type of home invasions so scary is the seeming believability of it all. There’s no purpose, no supernatural story, just random evil people reigning terror down on innocent people. The Blu-ray by Universal is quite good, with great audio and good video, but once again the extras are a bit slim in this department. Still, the movie is a worthy sequel to the first film and does a good job at making an entertaining horror flick. Recommended for a good watch.
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Written by: Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Runtime: 85 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 12th, 2018
Recommendation: Good Watch