The Strangers: Prey at Night movie review — No match to the original, this sequel works as standalone horror film
The best thing about The Strangers: Prey at Night is that it actually fixes some of the problems of the original movie.
The Strangers became a runaway hit back in 2008 with its fresh and terrifying spin on the home invasion horror subgenre, and it also paved the way for the low budget but effective horror cinema we’ve been seeing lately. The fact that we’re getting a sequel ten years after first film feels like a peek into an endless chasm. As with most sequels The Strangers Prey at Night does not match the cult classic quality of the original, but still works as a standalone entertaining horror movie to check out in theaters.
This time we have Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) who are having trouble containing and dealing with their wayward daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison). The family decides to take a road trip to drop off the daughter at a boarding school. Of course things go horribly wrong when a bunch of masked intruders attempt to hack them all to pieces that night.
The best thing about The Strangers Prey at Night is that it actually fixes some of the problems of the original movie. The biggest criticism of the first film was the lack of variety in the contained environment of the house – here the family is being stalked at a weird outdoor location so there’s some diversity in where the good guys could hide and be ultimately be on the wrong end of the masked monsters knives.
Secondly, this film takes a gleefully satirical turn in the third act, often times even skewering the clichés of its own genre. This is a refreshing change after two acts of very stressful stalking scenes and some disturbing imagery.
The script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai who made the earlier film has plenty of horror fan pleasing moments to keep things chugging along in a movie that looks like a cash grab on paper but turns out to be something more.
Also oddly satisfying is the lack of time dedicated to building the characters and the marriage – the filmmakers understand that no one is going to watch this film for the drama, we’re in this for the bloody knife action and there’s plenty of time dedicated to that. There is also a lot of style and retro verve in the monsters who seem to get off on films and songs from the 80’s whilst hacking people to gruesome deaths.
There are a couple of sequences where horrific chases with blunt tools of death are juxtaposed with pop music giving it all an ethereal glaze of pure madness. Of course we’ve seen this style of filmmaking before – recently in the Aussie serial killer film Hounds of Love – but this is a genre cinema trope one could never get tired of.
There are the usual problems of characters doing stupid things – because it seems to be the right of passage for most horror films – but the demise of the stupid characters is just kind of fun enough to ignore their silliness. At just over an hour and fifteen minutes this is an enjoyable thrill ride, and you don’t even need to see the first film to be able to appreciate the woozy thrills of this one. Walk in without many expectations and you’ll find yourselves quite surprised by the bloody delights it offers.
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