I’ll never forget when I went to go see THE STRANGERS in the theater. Ten years ago, I was in college and a new theater had opened up. My friend Stacey and I drove on a weekday night, probably a week or so after the movie initially came out to check it out. It was probably a Tuesday or Wednesday and it wasn’t near campus so there was just us and maybe two or three other couples. The movie played and what felt like a jolt of emotions swept over as I didn’t realize I was going to be watching a movie that was not only was scary, but felt way too real as there was no happy ending and no answers were given.
When the credits rolled, not only was there a sense of unease from the material, but there were no ushers in sight ready to clean up. I thought maybe it was just a slow night and they weren’t expecting much to clean up during the week. We all stepped out into the lobby and there were no employees in sight. On top of that, the lights were all out. All of us stuck together as something clearly felt wrong and I couldn’t help but fear that we were locked inside. Of course, the horror loving fan in me started to fantasize that we might be caught in a cat and mouse game inside this theater, but the front doors weren’t locked and we were able to get home without issues. I never went back to that theater (mainly because it wasn’t walking distance from campus), but that experience just was the best way to accompany a movie like THE STRANGERS.
I would assume if you’re reading this then you’ve already seen this 2008 home invasion classic, but for the few who haven’t, I’ll gladly indulge a synopsis without spoilers. Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are a couple who had a not so great night at a friend’s wedding reception. What unfolded at said reception is slowly explained via short flashbacks and subtle moments indicating why there’s so much tension upon them arriving at his family’s summer home. While they share awkward exchanges, their night is interrupted by a knock on the door. It’s the knock that initiates an evening of terror as they don’t realize they’re about to get a visit from some uninvited guests who hide their faces and take pleasure not in violence, but making sure these two are scared out of their minds.
Scream Factory has given us physical media collectors a must have release that includes new HD masters of both the theatrical and unrated cuts of THE STRANGERS. Ported over are the deleted scenes and old interviews with the cast and crew, but the double dipping is worth it since we now have new interviews with writer/director Bryan Bertino. Bertino’s interview is worth noting as the whole “inspired by true events” gimmick that accompanied the movie’s advertising is explained here and the real story is almost just as chilling. Two actors that played the killers, Kip Weeks and Laura Margolis, might seem a bit of a stretch on paper as they really don’t say much in the movie, but their behind the scenes stories are actually really interesting and even discuss scenes that were filmed but never shown involving their characters.
What makes THE STRANGERS so memorable is not the gore or jump scares, but the subtlety of what lurks in the shadows. The movie only rationalizes anyone’s fear that they’re not alone in the house. The scariest and what some might consider the most memorable moment in the movie doesn’t have any sound cues to initiate a response from its audience. It’s simply there and you might not even notice if you’re not paying attention. James and Kristen are just like everyday people who had normal problems, but those problems were interrupted. The movie is a reminder that we live our everyday stress and anxiety, yet we probably aren’t prepared for a real threat if it were to show up at our front door.
THE STRANGERS (Collector's Edition) will be arrive on Blu-ray from Scream Factory March 6th. To pre-order click HERE.