Published on June 2nd, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The Strangers
There comes a point in your movie watching career where you just can’t take it anymore, the inane characters, the poor writing, the movie studios pandering to the lowest common denominator and using silence and big jumps as a reason to go to the movies. Halloween, The Shining, Psycho, Alien and Aliens, these are all iconic suspense, thriller, scary movies that will live on for years to come because they broke the mold, they did something different. They created characters, atmosphere, they were written in a smart way for the audience to grasp on to, for them to enjoy.
Unfortunately suspense movies have taken a decidedly different turn as late, they’ve turned into ways for studios to pad the bottom line by dumping $10 million dollars into a film, making the budget back in the first week, shooting to number one (or in the top three) at the Box Office and then dropping off. Case-in-point: The Strangers.
The Strangers, allegedly only based on an experience by first time writer/director (and former gaffer) Bryan Bertino where some stranger came to his front door looking for someone else, then having his neighbor’s homes broken into, is full of everything that’s wrong with today’s “scary” suspense films. It features unlikable 2D characters whose only purpose in this hack production is to die and to make the audience feel smarter.
James (Scott Speedman) and Kirsten (Liv Tyler) return to a secluded house after a friend’s wedding reception in what was supposed to be a romantic get away, before Kristen turned down a marriage proposal from James. Instead of champagne and rose pedals, we get awkward silences and ugly bridesmaid dresses. After a stranger comes to the door and asks for someone who doesn’t live there, the torture begins. Through the next hour you’re treated to one of the dumbest sixty minutes of moviedom while each of the two main characters makes stupid decision after stupid decision. From the cliché cache we get, “There’s nothing out there”, the person who is there, but then is gone in a split second, the screaming at people asking “Why!”, and the more than brilliant, lets hang around and see what happens.
The movie has no point at all, aside from only having two central characters; we still get nothing to hold on to. Kristen is a chain smoking annoying woman who, like all scream queens, whines and screams a lot, and Speedman plays the everyman who has his heart broken, only to be rewarded with knife wounds to the chest (big surprise, he dies). When Kristen asks why the strangers are doing this, they reply “Because you were home.” Simply amazing, that fleeting line of dialog shuts the door on an unremarkable bore-fest that simply festers in the mind until it ends and receives applause only because the audience is free to leave.
The Strangers offers nothing unique to the genre what so ever, and aside from a few cheap scares has little to nothing going on for a near 90 minutes. You almost feel dumber as the movie wears on, knowing that if you stared in a horror film, it’d be about four minutes longer than it took you to find the shot gun, because you’d have gotten the hell out of Dodge.