The Strangers (2008)
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The problem with this film is that everything that these characters should not do, they do. Now, THERE ARE GOING TO BE PLENTY OF SPOILERS HERE SO IF YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING FURTHER BECAUSE YOU ACTUALLY PLAN ON WATCHING THE FILM, THEN DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.
First, you are being hunted in the house, you have a shotgun that can blow a hole through an elephant, and you are in a room that has one way in and one way out. You are safe. All you have to do is wait it out or the both of you leave the house together with the safety of the shotgun. Or of course the alternative is to separate and one person stays behind without the shotgun, the other goes to a barn to find a two way radio. The last thing sane people do is separate. If I was being hunted in my cottage with my wife by my side, the last thing I would do is let her stay behind while I go find a radio. She would be by my side all the time.
The best friend comes over at about 4 in the morning. He sees his buddies car bashed up. He sees the door with axe marks in it. He can see that something isn't quite right. Then has something smash his window. What should he do? Before entering the house, he should call the police and report suspicious behavior. But no, of course not, he enters the house with the loud playing music and doesn't call his friends name, or turn the music off, he of course walks silently into the open doorway and gets shot in the face by his best friend.
The classic case of not believing your girlfriend when she tells you that someone has been in the house. "No sweetie, you just imagined that you saw someone and you must of dropped your cell into the fire." Sure that happens all the time.
Every one of these characters deserved to die. They were stupid, unrealistic and completely clichéd in the worst possible way. And for the makers of the film to pretend this is based on true events is ever so manipulative. I read the supposed case this is based on and saying this is based on a true story is like saying Rambo is a love story. It's just plain wrong.
The Strangers is one of the most incompetent films I have ever seen. There is no suspense, no thrills, no chills. There could of been, but you lose all feelings of remorse or sense of caring for the main characters because the screenplay betrays them so much.
1/10 Truly, truly horrible film.
REVISION::: it's now Sunday 6/1. I originally posted the above comment after an advance screening of this movie late-night on thursday 5/29 (because I work at a movie theater I get to see all the movies before they're released.) So I've noticed something peculiar... there are, as of now, about 8 pages of comments on this film. About 3 pages of comments before mine (meaning before the movie came out) all gave The Strangers 9 or 10 stars, glowing reviews, and taglines like "best horror movie ever," "scariest film ever," and "awesome." But then, if you look at the dates of submission, 95% of all the comments posted after the movie was released say it's lackluster at best, anticlimactic, boring, lame, and not worth watching. So, I wonder, is that a coincidence, or maybe, just maybe, were all those people who posted great comments prior to the movie's release doing it for some other reason? Were they being paid to hype the film? Do they work for the production company? Or is it all just a big coincidence? Hmmm....
My recommendation would be to watch the first half of the film, then go and sit by yourself in a cabin, somewhere in the woods. The effect would be much better, and the film would serve it's purpose.
This movie is creepily boring.
It's started slow and vague; I have no idea what's going on with the main characters at least until minute 15.
It has a few moments where viewers led to believe that some action is finally going on, but the moments will die down without anything notable. The uses of loud noises instead of some real thrilling scenes are utterly annoying.
The end is just horrible. Viewers never know what's the motive of the murderers, never even shown the faces, least of all who they are and where they came from. Sure the film makers use the "the murderers can be anyone and the killing can happen to anybody" excuse, but then what's the point of making a movie when 80% of the storyline is left to the audience's imagination?
To save everyone from having a cardiac arrest, be prepared for a loud scream from Liv Tyler at the last scene. It's not scary nor interesting, just lame.
Me so tired of this type of film. Me bet newbies to the horror genre see this and think its the greatest achievement in a horror type thingy. When I think about this film I'm just amazed at how it really missed its mark. Sad thing or maybe the sickest thing is that I couldn't feel anything for the victims and did not care about their fates.
Anything positive? Yeah. I got turned on to the sweet musical style of Joanna Newsome. If you can get something worthwhile from this movie than more power to you!
Me go now.
This movie is just frustrating and predictable. Can't Hollywood even make an attempt to come up with something original any more?
The director spends too much time getting us to like the couple in the movie, but honestly does a terrible job at that. The opening sets the stage for a terrific movie. A 911 call saying "there is blood everywhere". Really? After seeing the movie, I expect to only see blood in two places, not exactly everywhere.
Most of the "strangers" actions are done to scare the audience, not the characters in the movie. How many times can the "strangers" be seen in the background but the main characters don't realize it...how is that scary to them if they don't know they are there??? The trailer actually is a bit scarier than the actual movie, especially once you see the ending... I still can't believe that the director/writer/et al actually watched the climax of the movie and said, "that nailed it, perfect!!!" So anticlimactic that they felt obliged to thrown in a cheap "gotcha"/starting scene right at the end of the movie. (wait did I accidentally see "Scream"?)
Instead of hiding in the closet with his girlfriend and the shotgun pointed at the door, lets run amock, get hurt, and when the situation turns bad, lets split up i'll go into the dreary dark shack 100 yards away from the house, and leave you alone in the un-secured house.
They deserved what they got.
First off, one of my favorite horror movies for scary and suspense is The Ring and horror movies I love are classics such as The Shining, The Exorcist, and comedic as Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, The Saw series has also impressed me MOST of the time (3 was a dud). If you consider my choices terrible then stop reading, this review will not cater to you anyway.
Movies such as the Shining were incredible based on imagery and superb acting. Nightmares were brought onto the screen and it was not necessary to jump out and scare you. The twin sisters at the end of the hall just sucked! Images from the Ring - need I say more. Again there were the jump scenes but the images still scare me when I work alone at night in the office. Oh and the suspense just seeing water leaking into the room knowing that she was coming.
This DOES NOT happen at all in The Strangers. In 2008 horror has escalated to a point where it is difficult to cause a scare without the jump out and scare you. So The Strangers went the route of "The Sick and Twisted Family" who you see every single scene of in the previews. Guy in the burlap mask stands ominously in the kitchen without Liv seeing him....oooooo scary. The girl stands in the woods 100 yards away....oooo terrifying. The other girl is on the swing...oooo not that. They banged on the door and window a few times to really increase the tension though. Two times the girl even asked "Is Tara home?" is that "I am so stoned" voice
That was it!!! I promise you. Oh wait, the guy in the mask jumped onto the window once when Liv was looking out. OK, you got me, I jumped. Every line that the Strangers say in the previews is their complete dialog - "You're gonna die" and "Because you were home" THAT WAS IT. Well, a couple more at the very end. You want a sick twisted family?? Rob Zombie hit the peak on that one, sorry. What's in the killer's head is far more scary than a mask...Hannibal maybe?
So eventually The Strangers make their way in. Oh, disturbing images and massive bloodshed that made this rated R? Are you serious? You ready? Liv cuts her hand really really really bad, a shotgun blow to the head where the impact isn't show but the body is on the ground for a while and some head is missing, then the grand finale? Our main characters are tied up and a butcher's knife is slowly inserted by each Stranger into the victims, 2 in the guy, one in Liv - no blood...
Movie over. You like it?
So the setup is that a young couple, played by Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, are spending the night in some house out in the middle of nowhere. There's a knock on the door. A really, really loud knock. That's about the most chilling thing the movie has to offer, a loud knock on the door. Anyhow our young couple ends up being terrorized by three people in goofy masks. Everyone involved, goofy mask people and their potential victims, acts very stupidly. Our victims have apparently never seen any horror movies as, rather than wait in the house with the freaking shotgun they have, they decide to go running around outside in the dark. Because running around in the dark always ends well in these situations, no? Our silly mask people are very lucky that their prey are so stupid because they are quite stupid themselves. If anyone involved in this story had any working brain cells the whole thing would've been over in five minutes. And what a blessed relief that would have been. Instead it goes on and on, Liv Tyler just keeps screaming and the would-be killers just keep, well, standing there. They never really do anything. Ooh, look a guy with a bag on his face is standing in the corner! Scary, right? Nope, not really. There is no action, no drama, no tension. It's all very predictable right from the beginning, probably not helped by the fact the movie basically gives away its ending right at the start. We go through all the horror movie clichés as the movie limps meekly towards a thoroughly unsatisfying end. Boring, unoriginal, quite stupid. That's The Strangers in a nutshell.
I heard about this movie a long time ago and was so excited that it was finally being released that I saw it at the first midnight showing. At first, I was enjoying the set, costumes, and I believe the acting was pretty well done. I believe the director achieved a very creepy feeling, but too many times did he use to obvious cop-out of making loud noises to 'startle' the viewer instead of genuinely 'scaring' them. The site bloody-disgusting.com made an excellent article describing the differences between these.
In the end, I remember about two scenes and the rest is a vague blur. The scene with Glenn Howerton (of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia! fame. Woot!) was probably one of the most tense and unsettling scenes of the film. The other being the portion where the record is skipping.
This movie is a strong example of anti-climactic. The ending was a cliché. I won't give it away but I will say that it did not leave me feeling disturbed nor did it leave me with a sense of accomplishment. Two things I look for in an ending to the flood of "home-invasion" horror flicks. I believe two recent films do a great job of accomplishing these factors. The recent VACANCY and FUNNY GAMES are leaps and bounds greater than this film. They do a much greater job of making the protagonists feel helpless and I strongly suggest both of them.
Hopefully, I could help some. I know many will disagree with me, but quite honestly that's fine. Many of today's moviegoers enjoy paying $10 to jump out of their seat because someone's face appears in a window or a sound guy hits a wall really loud. It's the sad truth and Hollywood banks on crap like that. So it isn't going to end anytime soon.
The first half hour is kind of humorous, with this guy having the worst day ever, but then the final hour is just the exact same thing over and over
There are people with masks, not killing them just to mess with them, and then they run and hide, and the masked people show up again, not harming them, so they run and hide until the completely predictable "climax", seeing how its the first thing you see in the movie
any attempt to scare you was an overpowering soundtrack and something flashing up on the screen
there wasn't suspense, there wasn't terror, there was just tripe
There is plenty here to recommend: Director Bryan Bertino shows himself to be a patient and smart director. Rather than going for just cheap thrills, he wisely builds tension up to near-breaking point. The feeling of suspense and dread that covers the whole film is classic. Both Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman do well in their leading roles, and the strangers themselves are things of pure terror... yet that's where the film loses some of its commendation. The strangers at times seem that they can't possibly be human because they are made to be almost supernatural in their abilities. They appear and disappear seemingly at will and instantly- a power the young couple probably wished they had but don't because they are, after all, HUMANS. It's a simple mistake used to give the audience one of those cheap thrills that were otherwise so wisely avoided. What makes it sad is that in every other aspect, 'The Strangers' is chillingly realistic and terrifyingly possible. Every time those strangers come and go like ghosts of some kind, it makes the audience sit back once more and say, 'Ah, well, it's just a movie." That's too bad.
Still, 'The Strangers' is much better than your average horror fare. It's at last a new movie that realizes what you don't show can be even more scary than what you do. Still, one hopes that Mr. Bertino can touch up the mistakes from this film and , and deliver a really great horror movie next time around. 7/10 stars! Jay Addison