Horror is a genre which has no place for ‘okay’ movies. They have to be either really good or very bad. Really good horror films scare the hell out of you, and make you recommend them to friends. Very bad horror films can serve as light entertainment for many years, fun to laugh at. The harder they try to scare you, the funnier you find them. ‘Okay’ horror movies suffer the worst fate – they are forgotten.
SLOWER IS HEAVIER
The Strangers starts off just great. A young couple spending a night in an isolated house…I told you it starts off just great. The couple, James (Scott Speedman, Underworld) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) are going through a very awkward phase, she has just turned down his marriage proposal as she isn’t ready.
Once inside the house, they talk a bit and consume alcohol and are about to get it on, when all of a sudden there is a knocking on the door. It’s more like a thumping, and it’s a young girl who asks for someone. On being told she has got the wrong house, she leaves…only to return when Kristen is alone (James goes for a drive and to buy cigarettes).
Kristen realizes something is very wrong and when James returns, they try figuring what exactly is going on. Kristen’s phone goes missing, James’ phone is burning in the fireplace, his car window is smashed. There are writings on the windows, and masked people start showing themselves in the weirdest of ways. Outraged, James gets his father’s gun and goes out to confront the strangers.
BEHIND THE MASK
The Strangers has a great start and a terrific build-up, during which you will feel like covering your face or closing your eyes at many points. Director Bryan Bertino knows very well that any wannabe horror/thriller film would have blood almost right from the start, and so he waits for the story to take care of itself. Letting the characters develop is a good idea, for it’s a lot more gripping to see someone (you think) you know get stalked, instead of watching random actors being slashed.
Masked people inside the house, masked people with axes, masked people playing music records terrify the couple before deciding it’s time for some serious slaying. It’s a great way of inflating the story, and it scares the viewer real good.
The best thing is about The Strangers is that the unbearable tension holds a tight grip on you, letting go only in the last few minutes. Rare and praiseworthy.
NEVER TRUST A STRANGER
What is really putting off is the way the movie ends. One good thing that can be said about the ending is that it is unexpected, but instead of being praised and remembered, it will cause many a viewer to storm out in a huff. I fail to understand why a perfectly entertaining thriller should have an ending that makes the viewer go ‘what the hell!’
Liv Tyler has the same look, voice and expression in all the movies she acts in. It’s mentally exhausting to watch her do the exact same thing in every movie and try to find something nice to say about her performance. She was best in daddy’s band Aerosmith’s Crazy video.
As for the three masked people, two women and one man… it’s best if they never show their faces or that’ll be the end of their respective careers.
The Strangers could have been a good (not ‘okay’) movie, but the ending will make you go ‘whatever’ every time you are reminded of this movie. A disappointing finish to a promising start.
(From my Buzz18 reviews)