The Strangers: Prey At Night is Just as Disappointing as I Predicted

The Strangers: Prey At Night is Just as Disappointing as I Predicted

If cinematic abuse had a title, this would be it.
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I wrote an article a few months ago when the trailer for The Strangers: Prey At Night dropped, and overall my expectations have not changed. In the car, I came up with a list of said expectations of the movie so I could compare and contrast what I was about to view after I got out. Overall, it can all be summed up easily as jump scare central, cheesy eighties references, and chases. I went in full knowing I was not going to get the same movie I fell in love with a few years ago, and was willing to accept that as I am not opposed to jump scares in films, in fact I believe that they can be done rather well. I suppose you could say, I expected something much more like Friday the 13th than the original Strangers.

Even with standards set so low, I cannot begin to explain how disappointed I was.

If you have seen the original, do you remember what you liked about it? Was it the creepy old record player filling the room to set the atmosphere? Was it the eerie subtly of the way the strangers crept into the house? The way you didn’t know where they were until you looked at it again? The way they camouflaged into the background, and were silent killers?

SURPRISE! Whatever it was, wave goodbye, because you won’t be seeing it again.

We start off the movie already on an awful misstep. (I was going to insert a comparison but I can not find the same title that was in the movie, as it is different than on the poster.) The title card and entire introduction is something which looked like a sad attempt at Alfred Hitchcock, which ended up looking more like the introduction to the 1995 Goosebumps series. Normally this nitpicking would not be something I would make a big deal about, but it truly did set the tone for the movie.

After a “surprise” death in the beginning, and after the horrid title card, we meet the family which is full of all the usual stereotypes. Moody teenage girl, hot mom, dorky and oblivious dad, and the sporty teenage son. Okay, I can handle these cliches, they are a well known cliche in the paranormal haunted house subgenre. The thing which bothered me wasn’t the cliche, however, but the caricature of it. It seemed as if the family was intentionally exaggerated, which earned an eye roll from me. But, I could handle it. They’re going to die anyway...or, maybe they’ll develope into something more.

Without spoiling too much of the movie (if you wish to view it) I would like to coin the rest of the beginning, middle, and end as an act of cinematic abuse. The way Prey at Night was shot was amusing, in the way that it looked like whoever operated the camera had just learned how to zoom in for emphasis. It seemed as though every few minutes, there would be something the camera wanted to emphasize eve if they did not need to do it. And it wasn’t even simple close ups, no sir/ma’am, it was slow zooms inward on faces of main characters in broad light,slow zooms on objects, there was even once where it zoomed in on nothing at all. They lended nothing to the audience's knowledge and became overall annoying.

And remember in the trailer when they made it pretty clear that the film would ride the eighties bandwagon to it’s death? Did it ever. I lost count of how many songs were played, but it had to be more than four, maybe five. It was shoved in your face so much that it was like visiting one of those tacky haunted attractions that used neon lights to distort your vision. The franchise- if you could even call it a franchise- took a complete 180 from the original from the get go. It was as if they looked at the movie at the last minute, and asked themselves-

“Hey, Bill, the eighties trend is big right now! How about we toss in a few references?”

And if you thought bright pink and neon green was enough to burn your senses, there’s more!

Jump scares never bothered me, in fact I liked them when done well. The problem with this is, they’re so easy to get wrong.

I’d be lying to say I didn’t jump once or twice, but that was all, and that was at the very beginning. Through out 90% of the movie, you are sitting there anticipating the jumpscare, and when it comes, it’s underwhelming. The film relies so heavily on it that they incorporate it so often, and it eventually becomes insignificant and leaves nothing left to give. If there was ever a film to encapsulate why relying on jump scares is bad, it is this one.

By the time the end came, I was wondering just what the hell I had paid to see. The story was confusing, and lended no knowledge to the movie whatsoever. We never find out about the strangers, nor do we find out about the characters. The film was just a vague plot pieced together with the only good horror movie to not have a sequel (and for good reason, clearly) and characters placed into the plot just to be killed off- literally! They served no purpose other than to be gutted!

I have never watched a movie and thought to myself that if I left in the middle, I would not miss something until I sat down in that theater of four (including myself). Again, I made no mistake in hoping for something like the first because it was advertised quite differently, but even then I was left disappointed, saddened, and even regretful.

The reason the first movie was so good was because it preyed not on the senses, but on the unknown. It allowed audiences to gravel in the way we knew things that the couple in the film did not. It fed off of the idea of realism, even with the Strangers moving in a way that was abnormally silent. The reason the first movie was so good was because of it’s minimalist design, the quiet house, the old record player, the fear of the unknown, and the knowledge that what happened to the couple in the film could happen to anyone.

Strangers: Prey At Night was so absurd that it was laughable. The original stood alone just fine, and hopefully the film will be forgotten. It is a sad excuse for a sequel, and even if, by any means, it comes to be revealed that this whole film was a joke, I will still regret giving that film my money.

Cover Image Credit: dreadcentral.com

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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