THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is the latest film from horror director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door, 47 Meters Down), based on the screenplay from Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai, and is a bold take on the long awaited sequel of the hit 2008 film, The Strangers. The film stars Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Bailee Madison (Bridge to Terabithia), Martin Henderson (The Ring), and Lewis Pullman (Battle of the Sexes).
In it’s long awaited return, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT centers around a family on the way to drop off their daughter at boarding school. Deciding to stay with relatives that own a secluded mobile home park, they arrive late in the evening to find the place completely deserted. However, soon things take a turn for the worse when a young woman arrives asking for Tamara. As confusion and fear begin to creep in, they soon find themselves surrounded by three masked strangers whose only goal is to wreak havoc on the family for their own sadistic joy.
First and foremost, I love Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers. It’s one of the few films to really put the fear of God (and strangers) in me. I’ll always remember blind buying the DVD and watching it while home alone and then being scared out of my mind afterwards. I’ve been waiting 10 years for this moment, for a sequel to come, and though I knew it would never live up to what the original was I still went in with an open mind. When I had the opportunity to see an advanced screening a few weeks ago, I came out the viewing with the biggest smile on my face. Though PREY AT NIGHT isn’t as effective as The Strangers was, it still had its own unique and terrifying identity which made for an incredibly fun viewing experience.
What I loved most about this film was how director Johannes Roberts made it all his own. If you are going into this movie with hopes that it’ll be just like the first film you will be severely disappointed. PREY AT NIGHT is a sharp, vivid, colorful, gory, and oftentimes humorous, film that incorporates a killer soundtrack and stylized shots that elevate the film to something much more than a slasher flick. However, Roberts also made sure to incorporate subtle nods to the original film which was something I deeply appreciated. It was apparent early on that Roberts was a massive fan of Bertino’s The Strangers and he took the time and care to make a film that showed appreciation to that while still maintaining its own identity.
As for the acting, everyone played their respective roles wonderfully. I don’t want to ruin anything about this film, but I do appreciate the Hitchcockian throwback to the demise of certain characters. Christina Hendricks, who plays the mother, was fantastic as usual and Martin Henderson, who plays the dad, was a welcome surprise as the last film I can remember him prominently being in was The Ring. As for their children, played by Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman, they were effective in their quest for survival and destruction of our three masked psychopaths. Speaking of the psychopaths, seeing the Man in the Mask (Damian Maffei), Pin-Up Girl (Lea Enslin), and Dollface (Emma Bellomy), back on the big screen was a real treat. Their “cool as a cucumber” persona as they slash and mutilate all they come in contact with, alongside the pop ballads of the 80’s, was the perfect juxtaposition that I never knew I needed.
In a time where films heavily rely on CGI, I absolutely loved that the makeup and special effects were primarily done with practical effects. That attention to detail and dedication in making everything seem as realistic as possible is something that I miss desperately in films nowadays. For those who love a gorefest, you will be in for a real treat as there are definitely a few moments of pure shock and bloodshed that will make fans grin from ear to ear. As someone who isn’t always the biggest fan of gore, I valued how Roberts didn’t go too over the top with the gore effects and just kept it to what made sense with the film.
Overall, I absolutely loved THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT. Sure, it didn’t have the same feel as the original but that’s totally okay. Not every sequel needs to have the same voice and style as the film that came before it; as long as it ties together in a way that makes sense, that’s all that matters. With each film that Johannes Roberts puts out, the more I love his work, and THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is definitely a worthy entry into the slasher/home invasion genre. Even though it’s been weeks since I’ve seen the film, I can’t get the image of a pool massacre to the tune of “Total Eclipse of My Heart” out of my head. You’ll understand when you see the film and believe me, you don’t want to miss out on THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is now in theaters everywhere