Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"The Strangers" review

The Strangers (2008)

Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer: Bryan Bertino

Alex Fisher ... Mormon Boy #1
Peter Clayton-Luce ... Mormon Boy #2
Scott Speedman ... James Hoyt
Liv Tyler ... Kristen McKay
Gemma Ward ... Dollface
Kip Weeks ... The Man in the Mask
Laura Margolis ... Pin-Up Girl
Glenn Howerton ... Mike

Liv Tyler and her boyfriend head to an isolated house to have a romantic getaway. Unfortunately for them, they are being stalked by three masked freaks. They saw that Liv was going through some tense times with her boyfriend and graciously decided to put them out of their misery. For some strange reason, the boyfriend doesn’t get overly alarmed at the sight of a masked woman standing in the front yard at 4AM. Liv tries to warn him that this behavior is not normal but he just can’t believe that he’s a pawn in a horror movie. His skepticism may doom them both.
“The Strangers” is an exercise in bare minimum horror filmmaking. It feels like it was made to fulfill an assignment in Directing 101 class. This movie rolls out all of the possible scare scenes you could have in a movie about three psychos stalking your house. Loud banging on doors? Check. Creepy music playing as you’re trying to hide? Check. Objects moved when you reenter a room to denote that the killer is toying with you? Check. And of course, a couple of scenes of the killer slowly creeping up behind you? Oh yeah.

So on a technical level, “The Strangers” works very well. If I was his professor at Horror movie university, I would give the director an A. But do all of these little scare scenes add up to a good horror flick? Going into this movie, I pretty much knew what to expect. The joy in watching horror movies, no matter how predictable they may seem, comes from being shocked by what tricks the filmmakers can whip out to surprise even the most jaded of horror fans. “The Strangers” did not surprise me.

There was a lot of effort put into making the soundtrack, (banging doors, broken glass, screaming, etc), be as scary as possible. It’s too bad the story didn’t throw any twists to make the plight of the doomed couple more interesting. By about the third scene of a masked freak sneaking up on somebody, I was ready for someone to get killed. The freaks weren’t just toying with the couple; they were toying with the audience as well. “The Strangers” has some good scare scenes but overall there was too much buildup and not enough payoff. There's only so much teasing I can take from psychotic masked women. Sooner or later, you've got to introduce yourself and not be such a stranger.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 stalking strangers

1 comment:

the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

I want to bugger Liv Tyler (as she was in 1995 when she was 18, not as she is now obviously).