The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
Directed by Johannes Roberts
Sequels are almost synonymous with horror movies. Hell, the 80s spawned so many it was basically parody level. The case of The Strangers is interesting, it took 10 years to have a sequel come out. The first Strangers movie, I reviewed in the past, it was creepy and decent but kind of lagged at times and needed more action to keep me re-watching it. When I heard they made a sequel, I was a bit surprised because of how late after the original it came out and because I thought the original was just above average. Then I started hearing positive reviews from people I respect in the horror community, figured I had to give it a shot.
Much like the first, there isn’t much backstory to this movie. A family goes to a trailer park to visit family and suddenly The Strangers show up and starting murdering people off. Now the family fights to survive. The parents die rather quickly and the son and daughter must go it alone.
The acting is pretty decent throughout. The father might be the worst actor, especially in his death scene. My wife, that rarely watches horror movies walked in and said “wow that’s bad acting” lol so that goes to tell you how wooden Martin Henderson was playing Mike the father. The daughter Kinsey, played by Bailee Madison is pretty good in her role. She is full of angst and somewhat of a problem child. She is strong willed and smart, which you see throughout the film. The Strangers, have very few lines but it goes great with the anonymousness of the masks. The man in the mask is almost Jason Voorhees levels of relentless towards the end, which is scary but at the same time a little unbelievable. The dude gets blown up in a car but still is alive, c’mon he’s just a man not an undead badass like Jason. Along with the acting the movie has great scenery and filmography. You see some really cool shots in this movie. One that stands out to me is the shot across the field of Kinsey running and way off in the distance you can see “Pinup Girl” standing and watching. Another cool shot is when Kinsey goes out the skylight in the bathroom, the camera shoots her from the roof of the trailer which is fun. There’s a scene where Kinsey runs into some culvert tube thing in the playground, I won’t ruin it but it legit startled me haha.
The kills are pretty bloody and simple. You don’t get anything over the top and innovative, but it kind of goes with the realness of the film. The whole time you feel like this is something that could happen in real life, granted the movie was “based on true events” but we all know that doesn’t mean much. There are a lot of stabbings, just simple, straight to the point stabbings with lots of blood. The Strangers are all quite unnerving and unsettling. One scene we get to hear Pinup Girl speak, Kinsey asks her “why are you doing this?” and Pinup responds “why not?” That itself is kind of terrifying, because you know with all the ugly and terrible things going on in our world, that is usually the reason.
The music in this movie is rather effective as well. We get a lot of late 70s and early 80s lite rock. The scene in the pool with Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is really haunting. They did a great job of picking that song, that really stuck with me. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply really brings an unsettling feeling to the scene in the film it is used in, and again great choice. I mention on my twitter account that I kept waiting for “Into the Night” by Benny Mardones to start playing, it would have just fit with the soundtrack, and is a creepy song in its own right.
I really enjoyed this movie, more than the first one. It ramped up the action that the first film lacked, without taking away from the suspense and atmosphere. It had a nice nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the end, which was less subtle and more obvious, perhaps to me because I love TCM. The only things that fell short to me were the similarities to first film, such as when someone comes to help and they get killed just like Dennis Reynolds from Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the first Strangers. The other thing that left me wanting more was the ending. It should have been cut about 2-3 minutes shorter. They had it, they had a good ending then they went a little too far to try and keep it open for another sequel. All in all I liked this, it was a fun watch and only 85minutes so it went by nice and fast. I give this a B+. If the ending would have been wrapped up quicker and the acting of the father was better, it may have got an A from me.