The film industry has been dominated within the past few weeks. “Black Panther” has easily taken over pop culture and ticket sales, leaving other films scrounging for leftovers and dying to be seen. I took pity and was in the mood to view something within the horror realm, so I saw “The Strangers: Prey At Night.”
This sequel to the original film produced in 2008 depicts a dysfunctional family taking their teenage daughter to boarding school due to a rebellious streak. On their way, they stay overnight at a distant relative’s deserted trailer park. They are completely unaware that their relatives’ throats were slit by mysterious strangers in masks the night before.
These strangers begin to stalk the new family as well. After discovering their relative's dead bodies, the father quickly acquires a hidden gun after seeing one of the masked strangers standing in the middle of the street with a sledgehammer.
This is where the story starts to become immensely flawed. I started to get excited because for a brief moment I thought a character in a movie was actually going to make a rational decision. That was a dumb assumption because the father starts yelling “I’m going to give you five seconds before I start shooting!” and drags out the most elongated five seconds I’ve ever heard in my life.
The apprehension doesn’t fall far from the tree apparently because later on the son is too hesitant on shooting another masked stranger. After the parents are gracefully tortured to the soundtrack of 80’s pop hits, the siblings are left to defend for themselves as they run around the same mile of property for the entire course of the movie.
I’m not sure if they just weren’t directionally oriented, but they ran past the same playground about five times. I also might be nitpicky at this point, but they weren’t running very fast for people who were on the verge of death. More like a power jog in the last half of the P.E. mile.
Throughout the course of this adventure they are being chased by two strangers: one male driving around in a rusty truck that looks like it’s straight out of “Grand Theft Auto” and a girl with a butcher knife who seems to be two steps ahead of everyone else and stabs the sister in the leg.
Just when I was getting sick of the jump scares and ready for the film to end, a third stranger appears and the brother calmly stabs her several times after she attempted to sneak up on him. The male masked stranger appears and becomes engulfed in a rage over his dead companion.
This led to a very suspenseful knife fight in a swimming pool and the brother is stabbed in the gut, bleeding out and taking his final breaths as he listens to the end of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.
You think that he’s done for when his sister suddenly appears and drags him out of the pool, running on her barely functioning leg to seek vengeance on the remaining two.
A glimmer of hope seemed to appear as a police officer arrived on the scene, but his throat is quickly cut by the girl stranger. The sister steals the dead officer’s rifle and shoots her in the stomach.
I got this huge moment of suspense building in my gut when I saw that she was about to remove the mask. I was immediately disappointed. Under the mask was just a normal looking girl.
When the stereotypical question of “Why are you doing this?” was asked, she just muttered some incomprehensible gibberish before getting shot in the face and finally dying.
If you’re going to tease at providing some clarity to the movie, at least provide me with some answers. Putting some facial features to a person that I don’t know doesn’t help me advance the story or do anything else other than leaving me go “Well that was anticlimactic.”
To finally take out the last remaining member who has been driving around in his “Larry the Cable Guy” truck all evening, she lights the truck on fire and it explodes, walking away from the scene of fire in all of her glory..until he somehow survives the explosion, pulls a shard of glass out of his torso and survives another remaining 20 minutes as she escapes onto a highway for help. Talk about overkill.
This 90-minute film could have easily been condensed into 45 minutes. Although the production was shot beautifully and had a fantastic throwback soundtrack, the plot was so frustrating and full of holes that I couldn’t focus on the positives.
It was easily comparable to watching your Sims flail around hopelessly in a burning house when they could easily walk out the front door.
“The Strangers” was mediocre at best for a horror film, with your typical jump scares and frustrating plot. They had a decent concept and failed to produce a substantial sequel.