A full 10 years goes by and we finally see what are masked faced trio is up to. Keeping away from trailers and articles to spoil any plot points or scares I may notice, I went into this movie about 85% blind of what to expect from this long anticipated sequel to the huge hit The Strangers. While wildly entertaining, it seems that with all that time off, they have decided to go back in time and remove what makes them unique and follow a lot of basic horror tropes you are used to seeing over and over again. You know the ones I’m talking about: splitting up, dropping weapons and the good old’ trip and fall on nothing, etc. Even our modern day killers have decided to jump ship and hop on the basic horror troupe bus with almost being super human. Back in the 80’s, you couldn’t keep a good determined killer down.
Instead of tormenting a couple on the verge of breaking up in an isolated cabin, The Strangers: Prey at Night focuses on a family of four on the verge of breaking up. Well at least for one family member. The younger of the two kids, Kinsey (Bailee Madison Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) is being shipped off to a school for troubled girls because well, she is a teen and instead of parenting we let someone else handle it. On their travels they stop by to visit some relatives along the way in this secluded mobile home park and that is where our story unfolds as Dollface, Pin-up Girl, and Man in Mask are waiting to kill! Kill! Kill! because why not.
If you wanted to watch this movie, you know what you wanted to see. That very unique tactic of scares and suspense you don’t see in most slasher films. What was so great about the first one is that they made it look so real and possible to come true, especially since this is based on true events. Most horror fans have seen it all in terms of how horror films usually play out and something about the way The Strangers stood out made them in a league of their own. I’ll be honest with you. I can be really gullible and fall for the same old tricks and this movie sucked me in. I was hooked. My limbs were getting tight, I was holding my breath and to the person next to me. It worked. However, I can’t help but notice how much different this movie has become and not for the better.
One of the techniques to make us unsettled and uncomfortable in the first go around was the random record playing song being played on a skip during a scene of uncertainty of who is going to die first. In this current sequel, the director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) decided to use a lot of 80’s music to put us in the mood. This soundtrack was also pretty dominant throughout the whole film. This maneuver will either take you out of the zone or maybe intensify the scene just like it did in the first one. My preference is silence is golden as most of the time there isn’t music playing in the background while I am being attacked by some axe wielding killer.
The masked murders are more in your face in this one. Right from the start you get two fresh kills to let you know that these killers are not holding back. If you wanted more screen time from them, you got your wish. I also think their methods while recognizable they did pull out a few new tricks. There were more than one jump scare that caught me off guard. There were more action sequences and physical contact with the family as well. I thought that was entertaining to watch. It shook things up a little to separate itself from the first one. I think that was a good idea because you come in with the expectation that these killers have calculated each and every move they plan to attempt to dredge up fear in their victims before going in for the kill. This new way of doing things gave a little bit of unpredictable moments on how they were going to handle things.
As for the family, the ones we want to live and fight, is headed by Christina Hendricks (The Neon Demon, Mad Men) playing a casual mother to her daughter who don’t have the best relationship. There is the father played by Martin Henderson, who does the best he can but doesn’t seem to know what he is doing. Both parents are somewhat likeable but forgettable as far as character development. The older of the two kids, Luke, played by Lewis Pullman (Battle of the Sexes) has an interesting relationship with his sister Kinsey. While it seems they don’t have a great relationship either, there is always that bond that they will always have in common is that they are both teenagers who despite it all have each other’s backs because they are family. He is the honest one in the family and tells it like it is, also playing mediator to the disappointing parents and the rebellious teen. I think his character is the most developed out of the bunch. All together as far as acting did what they had to do to make it believable.
At the end of the day, I do believe this movie is worth the watch. The film provides enough difference to be a little bit surprised with what you see on screen. There will be some that are disappointed with the obvious horror troupes being committed in the film from both killers and victims that will disappoint certain horror fans but if you are as gullible as I am, you will see yourself stressed out and possibly yelling at the screen wishing these characters would do the right thing instead of the wrong thing just for a good scare. I saw a little bit of moves pulled from other horror movies. I don’t know if that is due to lazy writing or if it’s homage to the horror movies of old. Would I watch this film again? Maybe as a double feature with the first one but as a standalone, once was enough for me.
3 ½ out of 5
Thanks again for reading my latest review. It is a little from its release but I write these as fast as I can. Remember that I talk about this and many more horror movies on my podcast “Bitch, I ain’t scared” you can find the link to that on the top of my homepage of the blog. Remember to subscribe to my page and look out for more reviews and another podcast by yours truly talking about movies of all genres. I will be reviewing movies on there as well as revisiting old ones and how they stand. Every movie has at least one fan. I’ll see you at the movies.