Film (Re)View – The Strangers, Prey at Night

This sequel has been a long time coming and I can honestly say that I wasn’t disappointed. Rather than being a typical slasher flick – all horror and no terror – the filmmakers really thought about what they were doing with this.

The movie follows a family who go to stay at a relative’s holiday trailer park, en route to taking their rebellious daughter to boarding school. A note left in the reception, written in a childish hand with a smiley face at the bottom, is a massive clue as to something being amiss, yet it is missed by Cindy, the mother.

Family time goes south and Kinsey, the daughter, stomps out, with her brother Luke sent to ‘talk’ to her. It doesn’t take the siblings long to find out why their aunt and uncle weren’t there to welcome them.

With the kids gone, mum and dad think they might get some alone time, when there is a knock at the door. This is the second time that evening AND it is the same girl asking for the same person. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose soon after.

Remember how I said this isn’t a typical slasher movie? The reason for this is that the filmmakers have taken time to weave the web of fear into the cast and audience alike. The members of the family are stalked and terrorised by the three masked assailants, and are are picked off one by one.

All good horror movies need the right mix of terror and horror for them to be successful. Terror is the emotional build up – the racing heart, clammy skin, shallow breathing etc – and the horror is the release – the scream, the running away, the fighting back. You can’t have one without the other if you want a horror film to be successful.

Many slasher films don’t spend much time on the build up of terror, it is all about the body count and the blood spillage. This movie changed that, by having a small cast terrorised by The Strangers. Well done filmmakers!

It isn’t based on a true story, despite its claim, but there are elements that may be familiar to crime buffs. The methods employed by The Strangers are said to resemble those used by the followers of Charles Manson, and the lines:

‘Why are you doing this (to us)?’

‘Why not?’

May have that same familiar ring to them.

The lines above also raise a talking point. Many people argue that all killers have a reason for doing what they do, but this isn’t necessarily true. Some do it just because they can……….