ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 2.96 stars
by 657 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Out of the Night
by Adam Hakari

"Suspense" refers to a state of anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation. By this definition, The Strangers could be called a card-carrying member of the suspense genre. Its story seems designed to keep both the audience and the fictional characters in a perpetual state of terror and unease, perched on pins and needles over what paths the plot will tread next. Unfortunately, much like last year's Vacancy, The Strangers produces 90 minutes of the sort of cheap, cliched, and time-worn excuses for thrills that are more likely to scare sixth-grade slumber parties than multiplexes of moviegoers.

Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are a young couple heading home after a wedding late one evening. Tensions are a bit high, considering Kristen pretty much shot down James's marriage proposal, but what to do with the engagement ring is about to become the least of their worries. A mysterious girl arrives on the doorstep, apparently having stumbled upon the wrong house. Afterwards, when James steps out, the real horror begins, as Kristen gets assaulted by a trio of sinister, masked figures bent on making her world a living hell. By way of eerie poundings on the door and stealthy home invasions, the three strangers mercilessly stalk Kristen and, once he returns, James. Their unrelenting assaults cast serious doubt on whether or not the two will survive to see morning.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, no wonder. It's easy to mistake The Strangers for a remake of the French chiller Them, although this film almost adamantly denies such a connection (even though producer Roy Lee built his career on attracting foreign remake projects to the States). What The Strangers has in common with Them involves a "based on a true story" hook (which is about as true to life as I am the Queen of Bavaria), a very basic and bare-bones premise -- and a tendency for that same premise to wear out its welcome in no time flat. Simply put, writer/director Bryan Bertino has maybe about a half-hour's worth of decent material, but he painfully stretches it out to three times that length. Admittedly, the first scenes are fairly eerie with a handful of cool shots in which the masked strangers prove their frightening worth by standing in the background and just staring.

Then as The Strangers progresses, it begins to repeat itself more often than the broken record figured prominently in a certain scene. When you've seen one stalking sequence here, you've really seen them all, as Bertino's bag of tricks turns up empty after diving into it a few times. Boredom sets in quickly, and The Strangers starts to mistake suspense for having the characters simply wander slowly all over the set for the duration of a scene. Also, while the performances aren't necessarily bad (aside from Tyler, who maintains a breathy, Marilyn Monroe type of voice even when confronted with death), the script forces the characters to endure one tired cliche after another. For example, after ducking into a closet to hide from one of the strangers, Kristen backs into a bunch of cans, causing a clatter so loud Leatherface could probably hear it in the next county.

Although a very handsomely-shot film, The Strangers  merely goes through the motions of the horror genre -- and with a bare minimum of effort. The potential for a spare and chilling horror masterpiece are here, but Bertino simply offers nothing new or exciting with this film. 

MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)

(Released by Rogue Pictures and rated "R" for violence/terror and language.)

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC