Folks, I was brought up on slasher films, and, because of that, even if, to a fault, I am usually excited when a new one comes out. That said, The Strangers: Prey at Night is a 2018 American slasher film I don’t think any of were really clamoring for, at least, not a decade after the release of its predecessor The Strangers. That film, if you’ll recall, had an idea that worked for a horror film. The idea of masked psychopaths showing up and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims, propelled by neither a rhyme nor reason. A “Because You Were Home” motivation that had been made famous decades prior by the first Halloween (until Halloween II revealed Laurie Strode to be Michael Myers’ sister). However, as far as delivering the goods, The Strangers was an abysmal affair. I might have looked forward to someone else having a chance to try something with the concept, but, by no means, did I think The Strangers itself delivered much to stir anticipation of a sequel.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is directed by Johannes Roberts and stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman (I stared at Bailee Madison with uncertainty along time before I realized I remembered a much younger her in the Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark film back in 2010). Written by Bryan Bertino, who wrote and directed the first film, and Ben Ketai, the film follows a family of four who go on a road-trip that goes haywire when they find themselves targeted by psychopathic murderers. Although The Strangers 2 wasn’t as successful as its predecessor at the box-office, it had a much smaller distributor and a smaller budget, allowing it to add-up to a modest success.
This isn’t a complicated film by any stretch of the imagination, and, because of that, I was almost leery about what I would even be able to talk about. The characters are introduced and given very simple backstories for themselves, which has become rudimentary in the horror genre. The issue with this, like many other horror films, is that it overstays its welcome and has little-to-no effect on the events that transpire later in the film. The daughter is depicted as being a troubled youth that resents her parents because they’re sending her away to a different school to try and better her behavior. This little tidbit ultimately contributes nothing to the film and feels like it was added in for no other reason than to help the film’s run-time achieve feature length.
This works in the film’s favor and its detriment, however, and perhaps, culminates in a statement more damning than that of praise: Strangers: Prey at Night is very plain. The film is handled by talented hands, executed with proper technique, it’s simply the scenes captured that don’t engage. The acting is competent, but they don’t have anything to sink their teeth into. The film simply felt forgettable and safe, better made than most the slasher films it resembles, but with no better ideas.