The Strangers Prey at Night
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Martin Henderson
Runtime: 1hr. 25mins
Why don’t they just run in the first place? Just leave or get out when there is no need to stay. Is there a morbid curiosity of what has happened? Or is there a duty to investigate or check things out until the police arrive. But why? Get out of there is what is typically shouted in unison by audiences in a crowded theater while watching a scary movie. Eddie Murphy joked about this in his 1983 stand-up comedy routine, Delirious. He theorized that there is a difference between races when they are faced with frightening situations. For example, upon arriving at your new “dream” home that you did not know was haunted, he questioned if when you realize that there was something bad in the house, why would you stay?
In The Strangers Prey at Night, this is the resounding question.
Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mark (Martin Henderson) along with their son and daughter (Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman) decide to stop at their uncle’s mobile park on the way to taking Kinsey (Madison) to boarding school. They soon discover the gruesome remains of their uncle and realize that their temporary stay at the mobile park might be permanent as they are attacked by a masked family of psychopaths.
Director Johannes Roberts sequel to the 2008 film, The Strangers, masterfully builds suspense with the use of eerie silence and a 1980s soundtrack (that serves as the lunatic’s inspirational fuel for killing) featuring artists Kim Wilde, Bonnie Tyler, and Marylin Martin. One terrifying scene involves a horrific discovery by some of the members of the family. The fear paralyzes the finder and he cannot hear what the other person is telling him because he is in total shock of what he just witnessed. There is complete silence as the viewer sees the person speaking to him, mouthing something, and slowly the sound fades in as he pleads with him trying to shake him from his shock-induced comatose state.
This is also brilliantly orchestrated when one of the family members is in a hopeless situation and one of the killers calmly sits beside him watching him in unimaginable pain. The victim goes from begging for his life to defiance to final submission as he realizes that the inevitable is getting ready to happen. The killer patiently finds his classic 80s radio station for his sadistic enjoyment as he stabs him watching the life drain out of his eyes. It is disturbingly personal, just the two, no I mean the three of you (because it feels that you are in the seen with them) confined in a very close space waiting for the final shoe to drop.
The intensity of the scenes and psychopathic games that the strangers play are the key components of this film. At one point one of the victims ask, “why are you doing this?” And the stranger calmly replies. “why not?” No, there is not anything of substance to learn from this film and there are no Oscar-worthy dialogue or performances. And yes, the film does have a stereotypical Michael Myers finale, but if you are a fan of horror movies, then you will appreciate it. And if you are not, maybe you should not watch this film alone, especially in a theater full of strangers.