America's third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, comes to power and conducts an experiment: no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one has to stay on the island, but $5,000 is given to anyone who does.
A family's road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family's every limit as they struggle to survive.Written by
With a movie like The Strangers Prey at Night, we know what we want as viewers. We want to see the creepy killers stalk and terrorize an innocent family. I know that sounds messed up, but it's just a movie, so this family isn't actually harmed. It's fine. Anyway, we want to witness this sort of messed thing because it's scary and creepy in a way that lingers.
What we don't care about in a movie like this is half-baked family drama. The daughter misbehaves a lot, so the parents are sending her to boarding school. Big whoop. Spare me the 15 minutes spent on this unnecessary plot line. Cut straight to the chase. And I mean that literally.
As a reasonable human being, I can sympathize with this family and root for them to survive without knowing about their drama. We all got problems. The back story, especially a weakly developed and acted one, is a waste of time.
I might not have noticed the boring beginning if the rest thrilled me a bit more. When The Strangers start doing their thing, everything feels a bit tepid. I want more. Give me more terror. More struggle. More manipulation. The buildups felt dull then suddenly the action occurred and ended too quickly. The buildup wasn't executed well enough to evoke any agonizing suspense, and the action didn't last long enough to elicit true terror.
Instead, I felt slight discomfort, the way I do when I have a pebble in my shoe. In the amount of time it takes to stop, slip off the shoe and remove the pebble, the scary moment was over. It was too fast and too easy.
At other times, the movie fell prey (sorry) to cliché horror movie tropes. Characters said things like, "let's split up," "you stay here," and "who's there?" It's frustrating. For the most part, they flat out don't do smart things. A bit of advice: if killers chase you and you find a loaded gun, be sure to hold onto the gun. Also, use the gun.
Much of the movie thoroughly dissatisfied me. Then the family fought back. Oh, what a moment. At that point, real actual interesting action started happening. I allowed myself to root hard for the family because they were legitimately trying, instead of cowering and whimpering about how scared they are.
Side note: whimpering about how scared you are is both the most annoying and most understandable horror movie reaction. Actually, I just convinced myself to change my own mind. It's the second most annoying because it is so understandable. The two reactions that tie at the top for most annoying are asking the killer "why are you doing this?" and saying "please" to the killer. Don't be polite to the person trying to kill you. That's dumb.
There are too many things wrong with this movie for me to give it a strong recommendation. It's slightly worse than fine, as far as slashers go. So, take that for what it's worth.
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