Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Strangers

Directed by Bryan Bertino.
2008. Rated R, 88 minutes
Liv Tyler
Scott Speedman
Gemma Ward
Kip Weeks

A group of masked strangers terrorize a young couple at their summer home in the woods. The movie works hard to extract fear and dread from the tension of the situation and resists the urge to compile a bunch of cheap jump-scares or use a lot of gore. Liv Tyler proves to be a capable scream queen. Unlike much of his other work, Scott Speedman actually appears lifelike.

Our bad guys can get in and out of the house apparently at will yet still resort to cheap "scary" tactics like axing the front door. They can also control sound, I guess. They make extremely loud noises sometimes, which I get. What I don't get is they also do some things in silence that should be audible for at least half a mile. This gives them a superhuman quality that isn't needed. It makes the grave mistake of telling us the ending at the beginning. That has worked in lots of movies but in this instance it renders the whole thing pointless. It tells you what's going to happen and then spends the next hour and a half barrelling towards that inevitable conclusion without any mystery as to how we're going to arrive there. Therefore, an ending that could've been shocking, disturbing or some other awesome -ing is left impotent, or more accurately limp from its pre-mature activity.

It's actually a pretty good watch at home, at night, in the dark because the possibility of the situation is one most of us have at least thought about once or twice. However, it's not as good as it should be. Horror fans give it a look but don't expect the next great thing.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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