If you're looking to be scared, The Strangers will to do the trick and then some.
I was a little worried, to be honest. Based on the premise and early looks at the trailer, it had the look of yet another "torture porn" story, of which there are already plenty. Fortunately, The Strangers rises above this and sets out to create something far more subtle, but no less gripping.
The Strangers is a no-frills suspense film. The premise is pretty basic: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple on the rocks, spending the night together in a secluded home. From the beginning, there's a strong sense of isolation and a feeling of sadness that pervades the movie. The uneasiness grows, steadily and unstoppably, as it becomes apparent that they're not the only ones out there...and the strangers that slowly encroach on them do not have good intentions. Not at all.
There's a little backstory here, mostly telling us what's going on between the two main characters, but the main thrust of the story is the growing presence of the strangers. It's done effectively, at first mostly with sound - a knock on the door, a whispered voice, a disturbed wind chime on the back porch. Eventually we see them, often lurking in the background, wearing blank masks of burlap or creepy doll faces. The pace is steady - implacable and insistent and undeniable.
The smartest thing about The Strangers is how it balances what is seen and what is unseen. It doesn't rely on gore or "gotcha" moments for its scares. Instead, it captures the feeling of isolation and the unknown - the feeling of being alone and afraid of something you can't see - and builds on it effectively. The ending is shocking and brutal yet not overdone. Like the rest of the film, it leaves much to the imagination of the viewer, where truly the worst can happen.
Fear is a powerful force, but truly expressing it in a visual medium (like film) is tough. If too much is explained or too much is shown, what at first seemed fearsome now becomes tame. At some point, you have to trust the viewer to fill in the blanks of what you don't show them. A movie that can do that, and do it well, is the one that truly captures the heart of fear. Not many live up to that idea.
The Strangers rides the razor's edge of known and unknown, seen and unseen, and in so doing creates something rare: a truly frightening film.
*1/2 out of **** "The Strangers" is maddeningly un-scary and also unforgivably stupid. It certainly proves that its director, first-timer Bryan Bertino, can direct a movie; but can't tell a gripping story. There are many directors like this; and I applaud him for at least trying to work with his "original" material. This could have made for a pretty tense movie, and the young movie-maker himself had a decent idea going for him. But then again, that is strictly speaking in … more
THE STRANGERS Now the idea behind this film is really scary especially since it can really happen. In fact it is based on true events or at least something the director experienced or remembered from his childhood. You can say it is a rip off of the film "Them" [really good] all you want but I tend to believe what the director has to say and how he wrote this. This film was based on three different things it seems that lead to the director … more
I had a good time with this one and would recommend it. I know that there are those who don't like it as much but I thought it was good. I say check it out because you may like it as well. Does it have problems, maybe, but that didn't hurt the film in my eyes. Rent it and check it out late one night, you may not want to answer the door after that. Based on three different things including a very chilling true crime, check out the review to find out more about that.
After watching the French-horror thriller "THEM" a few months ago, I didn't really have high hopes for this supposed "based" on true events film: "THE STRANGERS". If this isn't a remake, it certainly has strong similarities. (Maybe this was also based on the incident in Romania?) "Them" came out around 2006, if this was written before, what took it so long to be made? The quality of the film doesn't reflect anything special to cause a delay in … more
Inspired by true events, this heart pounding, nail-biting frightener mercilessly explores our most universal fears, where simply opening the door to a stranger leads to a grueling night of terror one could never imagine. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star in this relentless suspense thriller that will keep you up at night and make you never want to answer the door again!