Sunday, March 29, 2009

A late night with The Strangers

June 1, 2008

I know, I know, it's been a couple of months since I last shared my opinion about a movie. Fear not, I have returned to enlighten all of you. Tonight's cinematic adventure: The Strangers.
The horror! The horror! Actually, you'd be surprised how effective this scene was.
After an emotional night, a couple (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler) return to the summer home they're staying at--conveniently located in the ass-end of nowhere. The film begins with some, ahem, uncomfortable scenes involving our not-so-happy couple. After fifteen minutes of character development (it's actually worthwhile) a knock sounds (Jehova's at 4 am? Ridiculous!) at the front door. The caller, hidden in the shadows, asks, rather creepily, if Tamara is home. Telling the mystery girl she has the wrong house, the couple send her on her way. James (Speedman) decides to make a quick trip to the gas station to buy cigarettes and time to think. While Kristen is left home alone, the terror begins. The girl shows up again, knocking-turning-into-bang
ing begins circling the house, and, unknown to our leading lady, somebody has found the house welcoming enough to come inside for a visit. Terrified, Kristen can only wait until James returns. Once he does the real fun begins.

As the product of writer/director Bryan Bertino's first foray into the movie-making process, The Strangers blew me away. A simple (and fairly common) plot did nothing to hold this film back. Incredibly tense, this film uses very little score (and chit-chat), instead opting for ambient noise. The silence creates a tension that is palpable. Our fellow movie goers were literally shrinking into their chairs, knowing something was going to happen... Something... has to... and then it did. I don't remember the last time I was in a theater with so many shrieking girls (and even a few guys). Even I, a horror movie connoisseur, was dreading what was about to happen. Yes, this is one of the most effective films I've seen recently (see also: [REC], Inside, and, to a lesser extent, Them [of the four films listed, Thr Strangers is the only American one]).

The thing that makes this film so scary: how fucking believable it is. The victims, for the most part, make realistic, intelligent choices (well, okay, not always). The attackers are human and, more importantly, unknown (hence, The Strangers). Who are they? Why are they doing this? No answer is ever given beyond the "because you were home" reply found in the trailer.

Also: it's not too often we get a nice, R-rated horror movie now-a-days. Yay for gore (not a lot here, actually)!

There were a few drawbacks: the beginning gives away the end and our victims weren't without one or two hair-brained moves. Still, the film held together beautifully, overall.

For a chilling thriller that will make you check (and double-check) your deadbolt before bed, check out The Strangers.

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