A lot of horror movies insist on being “based on true events” and The Strangers is still one of the funniest moments of this. Writer/Director Bryan Bertino said that the “true story” was that he basically thought it would be super-scary if someone just broke in his house while he was alone at home. Seriously, this dumb story is true. A few knocks and bumps in the night inspired the movie and as dumb as this sound, it also helped create one of the most taught thrillers of the past twenty years. While The Strangers is not a seminal movie for me, I know a lot of people who describe it as one of the scariest films they have ever seen. While these folks are usually a decade younger than me, I still respect the movie as a whole. So when I heard that someone was finally releasing a sequel, I was pretty curious about it. What I expected was very different from what I got. I expected a beat-by-beat rehash of the original and was shocked that they decided to go in a completely new direction. While its not perfect, it serves as a fun and braindead horror movie that is hard to not enjoy.
The Strangers: Prey at Night starts with an annoying family that is on a trip to drop off their shitty daughter at some kind of boarding school. The foxy mom, played by Christina Hendricks, and family show up to their Uncle’s house to rest and find that the house is empty. Weird people start knocking on the door at night and we soon discover that these are the maniacs from the first film. People get stalked and killed, while the bad guys wear masks. Pretty simple, but its what it is.
Simple is a good way to describe this movie. It lacks the tension and domestic drama of the original, but makes up for it with a whole bunch of the “red stuff”. The kills are over-the-top and can boast a much crazier kill count than the last film. The kills are swift and visceral, but lack any feeling of attachment.
What is really fun is that they don’t limit the mayhem to just one location and this helps the movie from getting too stale. What doesn’t work is the actual family. They only exist as fodder for our murderers and I would be impressed if you could find one person who could remember a characters name from this film. The thing that really kept me interested was the unique decision to score this movie with AM radio hits like “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. This stark contrast is fun and adds an extra level of nihilism to the already brutal kill scenes in the movie. In the end, this film will probably not play well for hardcore fans. But to the rest of the horror fans, they should find something to dig while watching The Strangers: Prey at Night.