Taking a Stab Tuesdays!: – The Strangers: Prey at Night


  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.

The film features an original score combined with classic songs (Total Eclipse of the Heart, for example) thrown in for extra-measure. I would say these aspects work to the film’s benefit, although, I’d also mention they aren’t complimenting the film in any unique way and are familiarly presented. As a matter of fact, the original score’s piano melodies harken back to John Carpenter’s classic sound presented in Halloween.   Strangers 2 is shot relatively well, once more, I would compare its camera-angles as akin to a lot of what was seen in 80s horror. This isn’t necessarily an insult, because the 80s were a very pertinent decade for the horror genre, where it becomes complicated is when homages aren’t complimented by fresh ideas and unique execution. Strangers 2 doesn’t bolster very many surprises and, in-fact, is a very, very convention slasher film. I did encounter one scene in the film, a jump-scare in the early-going I liked a fair bit due to the way it was shot and presented. Other-wise though, I can’t really say I found anything in this film to single-out or talk about.

​   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.

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