THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (2018)

TheStrangers

Directed By: Johannes Roberts
Written By: Ben Ketai & Bryan Bertino
Cinematography By: Ryan Samul
Editor: Martin Brinkler 


Cast: Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, Damien Maffei, Emma Bellomy, Lea Enslin, Leah Roberts 


A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. The director knows his visuals and how to make them Strong, memorable and lasting. Unfortunately the script doesn’t support his vision completely

Though I wasn’t a big fan of the first film. I respected it for it’s atmosphere and sense of dread it held throughout while playing up the drama of the horrific situations. This film while not as polished achieves the same thing only here it feels more generic.

These films feel needlessly cruel. I mean most horror films have killers and innocent victims only there is usually a bit of hope and humor those films. Here the films feels like we are watching pretty much a snuff film as we know the characters have no hope.

While atmospheric again it has more like the only reason we have a full family is for the film to allow more killings and while the killers here again have the home court advantage it makes little to no sense that the film treats them more as phantoms who can’t be stopped and are not only ferocious but also seem without faults and precise. They don’t seem human and we wonder if the film is even really associate the first films killers other than masks being the connective tissue and the secluded neighborhood.

Though the film is effective and scary it also seems one sided. The only thing added here other than Widening the playing field is that the film showing it’s more mainstream roots by choosing to add a soundtrack of more 80’s type songs that also go with the titles trying to make the film seem more like a throwback to those crazy 80’s slasher films. It also helps relieve the silence.

While I can certainly applaud the director for this film and the atmosphere he is able to create. It would be nice if This film wasn’t so bleak.

An interesting sequel would be if someone sought revenge on these characters and struck back and explained maybe the mystery or reasons. While giving no clues can be affective and never quite explains the how or why after awhile it can also seem like lazy screenwriting it just going with the flow which at times shows a disrespect for the audience if you look too deeply but this is not a film made for deep thoughtful as it has artistic aspirations.

Before the script was re-written, Kristen McKay from the first film was going to return for only for the opening scene, where she would be killed. This film was also co-written by the first films writer-director Bryan Bertino.

The film is as entertaining as watching a home invasion. In other words not very as you are basically watching a massacre that takes place over a series of time. Which again can be many horror films but there also doesn’t seem to be much storytelling at work. So while it does add some inventive original scares. They don’t add up to much in the thick of things. As the film slowly leads back to it’s basic roots once the onslaught begins.

The film even introducing the characters and their dilemma aren’t that interesting but maybe that is what makes them feel a bit more real and identifiable as the film seeks to dissect, infiltrate and eliminate the all Americans family. Maybe as a sign of dismantling, destroying or rebelling.

The Kills are ordinary but gruesome. At first the films seems to try to go with a Alfred Hitchcock style and feel and quickly loses steam to become a basic thriller determined to try and set itself apart. Stylistically it is on point and achieves something the first film lacked a kind of minor victory for the audience expecting a kind of EDEN LAKE twist. Though the third act seems more mainstream then the rest of the film. Even as it goes Into the ridiculous. Though proves that this film is more dedicated to the youth.

One character a killer one seems to be inspired and fueled by the soundtrack songs.

Don’t know if i looked down upon it because it’s a sequel or because it ended differently than expected and the First film seemed more a tragedy the sequel seems to offer hope even though it seems to end on a note that seems to leave it more haunted and room as always for a sequel as it takes itself down yet seems to want to survive.

I will give the film credit as it gives what you want out of a horror film as far as scares and tension goes. As instead of excitement there is Dread, Plus the ending seems to owe quite a bit to the ending of Texas chainsaw massacre and offers a rather impossible series of events.

This film seems to offer a release of sorts you thought you would never see. Where as the first film you hoped for and never got.

The film leaves itself open ended as it could be the final but there is room for the sequel. So that it seems self hating or destroying and can easily bring itself back though it seems to leave it opens ended to see how the audience will react when it comes to box office and attendance as well as does anyone want to see a return. I would be all for it if again it remakes itself and offers something different or at least stick to it’s guns and just be ruthless.

The film seems to give off the definition that kids or teenagers are mostly, from the killers to the problem child a problem. The family is dealing with who because of that fact seems to survive or maybe the killers recognize a kindred spirit and try to save her for last or her transformation matures her to adulthood and to overcome to a degree. Other than the opening scene the first act seems to be a family melodrama until the true tension begins.

Seeming to be a direct sequel with the returning Killers from the first film not seem more random but like this is more a regular thing for them. Still give no reason which makes it seem random.

The film is opened up more than the first film by giving the family a seemingly deserted trailer park to run around in rather than just hunting their prey in a house.

The film also allows for the victims to fight back more and injure their attackers which gives the film more of a kind of release for the audience and less one sided.

Wonder if the 80’s pop music used is supposed to be ironic or remind those who have watched horror films from that decade a kind of homage. As well as having one killer use a sack as a mask like jas n Giorgio’s in FRIDAY THE 13th part 2.

The film has a bit of a John carpenter vibe in the stillness and the image of a flaming car reminds one of CHRISTINE. While the characters struggle to avoid Halloween masked killers. Just as the ending has a kind of homage to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Grade: C+

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