James (Scott Speedman) and Kristin (Liv Tyler) take a trip to James’ parent’s home in a secluded, suburban neighborhood after they attend a friends wedding reception. It is made clear that James had expected this venture to be a romantic one, but that is obviously not the case, and the couple share a few awkward moments at the start of the movie. We find out – via flashbacks – that James had proposed to Kristin at the reception, and she obviously turned him down. The couple is about to kiss and make up (literally) when a knock is heard at the door. It being 3 in the morning, this is a little strange. James answers the door and a girl asks “is Tamara home”? This starts the spiral of the movie, and James and Kristin’s struggle for survival against three masked strangers who are dead set on terrorizing them.
The Strangers starts out as a slow character study, and then evolves into a speedy survival film. Though it might start too slow for some, I enjoyed watching the actors work in the first 1/3 of the film, and it helped set the tone for the rest of the movie. More importantly, it made me care for these characters because it made them real people with real problems. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman kept the movie interesting throughout, and although the director gave the actors an easy way out in the highest emotional moment (the camera never sees their faces at this point, hiding the real emotion of the actor from the audience, which is a personal pet peeve), both gave strong, convincing performances in a movie that was actor driven. The sound stands out as my favorite aspect of this movie. From the wonderful juxtaposition of songs and action, to the sound effects that acted as the third main character, Jeffree Bloomer has put together something special in the sound department of The Strangers. I was also a huge fan of the cinematography because it perfectly depicted the entire quality of the movie: bleakness. From the barren tree shots at the start of the movie, all the way down to the “everyman” suburbanite house the movie was shot in, and the reason this couple was terrorized, bleak is the best word I can use to describe The Strangers.
Though this is the third time watching this movie, I find more to enjoy about it with each viewing. Aside from some staple “stupid moves” that horror movies are guaranteed to have, The Strangers is a highly recommendable film, and perfect viewing for the Halloween season.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.