By: BabyRuth (Four Beers) –
A decade after The Strangers (2008), those three lovable masked thrill-killers, Dollface, Pinup Girl, and cleverly named The Man in the Mask are back to wreak some havoc because… well, why not?
The follow-up focuses on a family of four: mom Cindy (Christina Hendricks), dad Mike (Martin Henderson), 35-18-year-old son Luke (Lewis Pullman, Bill’s son), and troubled teen Kinsey (Bailee Madison). We know Kinsey is troubled because she wears a Ramones t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a flannel. She also “smokes” cigarettes (she puffs, but doesn’t inhale). Clearly, she’s just too much to handle. She supposedly did something really bad, probably involving Tide Pods, and her parents have had enough so it’s off to boarding school!
Hears “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Buys shirt at Hot Topic.
Cindy and Mike decide to make a family road trip out of it and they all pack into their car to dump Kinsey off. It’s a long drive, but fortunately Cindy’s Uncle Marvin owns a trailer park along the way and kindly offered the family a place to crash. Crystal-I mean-Gatlin Lake Getaway is one of those resort trailer parks for people who can’t afford to take real vacations. It’s the off-season though so the place is pretty deserted, except for Uncle Marvin and his wife who live on the premises.
And oh yeah… a few others.
On the plus side, Kinsey probably won’t have to go to boarding school now.
I was all in on this one as soon as I saw the trailer. I mean, once Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” kicks in, it’s ON! Seriously, the best thing about this movie is this trailer:
Do they give awards for trailers? Because this really deserves one.
Between the generic-sounding title and not having seen the first movie, I wasn’t aware this was a sequel, but it functions just fine as a standalone film. Apparently, at one point there was an opening scene featuring a character from the original, but it was scrapped and rewritten. This was a wise move, considering the ten year span. (Those looking to 2008’s The Strangers to see if it provides any backstory for the killers won’t find many answers. The masked trio simply kill people for no reason other than they feel like it, which is a pretty damn terrifying concept).
Director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, which I quite enjoyed) makes the most of the isolated, fog-filled setting and there are some creative stylistic choices in visuals and sound, most impressively in the pool scene, which is fantastic and will be the one thing this movie is remembered for even years from now. And while there are a couple (effective) jump scares, Roberts thankfully steers clear of overusing them.
The acting is way better than a film like this calls for. Especially with some of the dialogue the cast has to deliver. (Note to self: If ever being approached by psychotic knife-wielding killers, yelling “Just leave us alone!” is not going to help much.)
This is a pretty by-the-numbers slasher movie with nothing particularly new or inventive to offer. The 80s nods are fun and thank God for them, because they’re really the only “fun” thing about it. It’s a grim watch for the most part (the finale is a thankfully bonkers descent into silliness) and feels very familiar seeing that in the decade since the first movie we’ve had an entire franchise about killers in creepy masks invading homes and torturing families.
If you are one of those people who get annoyed when characters in horror movies do the Absolute. Stupidest. Possible. Thing. at the Precisely. Worst. Moment. to do that Absolute. Stupidest. Possible Thing, well you’re really gonna bang your head against the wall during this one. Every time a character has a chance for an advantage/escape they manage to screw it up. From not grabbing their phone before heading out into creepy, empty trailer park (and what kind of teenager doesn’t have their phone on them at all times?), to having a gun and not using it, to suggesting splitting up (because that always goes so well) instead of GETTING IN YOUR CAR AND DRIVING AWAY, this family makes it way too easy for the Strangers to pick them off.
Somehow, the Strangers are always one step ahead and seem to get more and more invincible as the runtime goes on. The whole thing with these killers is that they are regular people, which gives the film a grounded and frightening feel since something like this very well could happen, and has (Writer Bryan Bertino has said the films are partially inspired by the Manson murders). But it gets harder to buy as the killers seem to teleport and eventually rise from the dead.
While nothing new, The Strangers: Prey at Night has a few rousing moments as well as a great soundtrack and is a passable addition to the slasher subgenre. I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to see it, but if you’re a horror fan and have a spare 85 minutes and a MoviePass, you may find a few things to like about it.
The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever there is a knock on the door
Take a Drink: whenever a drawing of a happy face is shown
Take a Drink: 80s song
Take a drink: synth music
Take a Drink: for every zoom
Take a Drink: for every homage to a classic horror film
Take a Drink: whenever a character says “Leave us alone”
Take a Drink: every time a character does something incredibly stupid
Do a Shot: for every kill